Growing up in a Chinese community in San Francisco, Frances (Fei Ting) is no different than most Chinese-American children in the neighborhood. She's expected to obey her mother in all matters, excel in school and fulfill her mother's dream of attending Berkley to become a doctor. Frances' ambitions are irrelevant; her mother, a single parent, has given up a lot to raise her and provide her with an education; therefore, her wishes trump anything Frances might want to do with her own life.
The relationship between Frances and her mother seemed outrageous to me, and the mother's treatment of her daughter was disgusting and almost criminal. For example, Frances was repeatedly told that she was fat and unattractive, put on an insane diet to lose weight, lied to and physically beaten when the truth about speech class finally came out.
Although Bitter Melon is technically a young adult novel, I think it would make for an interesting read for adults as well. Teenagers will be thankful for their own parents after reading about Frances', and parents will get a glaring example of how not to treat their children.
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