Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Life of a Banana by PP Wong


The title of the book made me smile, since a 'banana' was meant to describe a Chines person with a western up bringing. Yellow outside and white inside. In my country we have the 'coconuts'. It seems as though there will always be confusion and bitterness when second generation immigrants have to adapt to their country while the parents expects them to uphold their old cultures and beliefs. In our country's case it is not immigrants, but indigenous groups adopting the western lifestyle. 

Xing Li is a young school kid, born in England from Hong Kong parents, whose mother dies shortly before she is heading for school. Her dad is long gone. She and her brother must move into Grandma's house where she soon discovers a life she is not used to, neither find acceptable. There is her heartless grandmother, her aunt Mei, the sad uncle Ho, the tortoise and her missing cat, Meow Meow. She also has to find her own voice among white racist learners in the prestigious school she is sent to. Her friend Jay, a Chinese Jamaican boy, becomes her mainstay and support when the prejudice and bullying become brutal. She has a lot of growing-up to do, very quickly, while the lack of support from her grandmother drives her more into her own private little world where she has to vent for herself and she is not good at it yet!

However, she learns in the end what love really means and in how many forms it manifest itself. Some are less obvious than others. She also learns that things are not always what it looks like. 

PP Wong is a refreshing new voice in the British literary world. Although I have no problem with racism combined with bullying, being spotlighted, I do believe that too much repetition of the situation, weakens, instead of strengths the message as happened in the book. The same thing happens when a world music hit gets played 24/7 for as long as the listeners can stomach it, until they start contacting the radio stations and plead with them to not play it anymore. Less is always more!

For young people, particularly, this book is a must-read. It is one of those experiences that forces the reader to learn more about the people they never get to know in their communities. What a wonderful new discovery it can be to accept people different from ourselves, into our lives. Of course it counts for both immigrants and old inhabitants alike. 

A great read!

A NetGally read offered for review by Legend Press. I loved the experience. Thank you.

For what it is worth - the book cover should be reconsidered!   Phew!


Xing Li is what some Chinese people call a banana - yellow on the outside and white on the inside. Although born and raised in London, she never feels like she fits in. When her mother dies, she moves with her older brother to live with venomous Grandma, strange Uncle Ho and Hollywood actress Auntie Mei. Her only friend is Jay - a mixed raced Jamaican boy with a passion for classical music.

Then Xing Li's life takes an even harsher turn: the school bullying escalates and her uncle requests she assist him in an unthinkable favour. Her happy childhood becomes a distant memory as her new life is infiltrated with the harsh reality of being an ethnic minority.

Consumed by secrets, violence and confusing family relations, Xing Li tries to find hope wherever she can. In order to find her own identity, she must first discover what it means to be both Chinese and British.



Genres: Family, drama, British author, racism, bullying, relationships, Young adult.
Formats: Paperback , Kindle
Print Length: 272 pages
Publisher: Legend Press
Publishing date: September 1, 2014

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ISBN-10: 191005321X
ISBN-13: 978-1910053218
Purchase links: Amazon USA | Amazon UK | 


PP Wong was born in London in 1982. Her parents, both Chinese and originally from Singapore, moved between London and Asia during her childhood. She experienced extreme bullying throughout her schooling in the UK. PP Wong worked as an actress for six years, with her first job aged 15 when she was cast as 'Screaming Vietnamese girl' in a James Bond film. Other work includes performing in lead roles at the Soho Theatre in Moonwalking in Chinatown and BBC Radio 4's play Avenues of Eternal Peace about the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. PP Wong is now a writer and is also editor of, a platform to encourage new East Asian and South East Asian writers with thousands of readers from over 30 different countries.

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