Review: Lucy and Linh

Alice Pung - Lucy and Linh
Published: September 6, 2016 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genres: Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Find on: Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads
Rating: 2.5/5

Gilmore Girls meets Fresh Off the Boat in this witty novel about navigating life in private school while remaining true to yourself.

Lucy is a bit of a pushover, but she’s ambitious and smart, and she has just received the opportunity of a lifetime: a scholarship to a prestigious school, and a ticket out of her broken-down suburb. Though she’s worried she will stick out like badly cut bangs among the razor-straight students, she is soon welcomed into the Cabinet, the supremely popular trio who wield influence over classmates and teachers alike.

Linh is blunt, strong-willed, and fearless—everything Lucy once loved about herself. She is also Lucy’s last solid link to her life before private school, but she is growing tired of being eclipsed by the glamour of the Cabinet.

As Lucy floats further away from the world she once knew, her connection to Linh—and to her old life—threatens to snap. Sharp and honest, Alice Pung’s novel examines what it means to grow into the person you want to be without leaving yourself behind.

Try again next time, Lucy Linh.

Fifteen-year old Lucy Linh and her family have come to Australia via a fishing boat from Vietnam. Fortunately, her father quickly finds a job working in a factory while her mother sews clothing illegally in their garage. Miraculously, Lucy wins a scholarship at the exclusive, all-girls school, Laurinda Ladies College, but when she arrives at the school, all is not what it seems.

Upon arrival, Lucy encounters a group of girls, The Cabinet, headed by the resident queen bee, Amber. They are wealthier, nastier, and flatout bitches. Although, Lucy isn't fond of them, she clings to their group for salvation.

I wasn't fond of Lucy and I didn't exactly understand her. (view spoiler) I did appreciate what she did for her family, though. Both her parents worked relentlessly, and the second Lucy left school, she looked after her little brother, The Lamb.

One of my prominent issues with this book is Lucy wanted sympathy when no sympathy was needed. One scene, she goes to a party, hosted by the mean girl's family with a tray of her mother's homemade rolls and begins serving them to guests. The hostess - the mean girl's mother, a nice woman, admittedly - tells her to enjoy the party, but she doesn't, then someone makes an ugly comment.

(1.) You should only go to a party, if you're friendly with the hostess and with a friend of your own with you. Hopefully. (2.) Follow Rule #1.

The mean girl wasn't so bad. If anything, she was more...racially-insensitive and over-privileged. She pulled pranks and messed with teachers (although, I'm not sure how students can successfully get away with messing teachers, but okay) either way, she and her clique were mostly harmless.

Call CPS on Lucy's mother. Where the hell would Lucy's brother be if Lucy didn't exist? Okay, I appreciate the fact Lucy's mother is a working mother and she does what she can, etc. Etc. The Lamb, Lucy's toddler brother, throughout the book, is placed in a box, has blue snot streaming out of his nose, and develops asthma due to his mother's profession. Oh my gracious.

It handles the diversity aspect fabulously. Although we saw little of him, Lucy's father was amazing. He only wanted his daughter to have friends and succeed in life. A++ Dad Award definitely goes to Mr. Linh.

Well, I barely remember the ending. If I can tell you anything, Lucy was the valedictorian, even though she was just at Laurinda for a year so whoever decided on that casting is genius. As I said, the diversity aspect was enjoyable, but I wasn't outright impressed by this read. 


  1. Yeah... I kind of feel like this one would not work for me. I mean, yay for good diversity rep, but I feel like there needs to be more than that for a book to work, certainly. Lucy just flat out doesn't sound likable. And I am kind of over the "mean girl" thing in general so... probably best for me to just avoid this one. Great review!

    1. I always love the diversity books, of course, but I can't handle books that just warrant pity. Mean girls, too. I used to secretly love them, but I'm slowly getting tired of them. Yay, thanks!!


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