Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung

Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung. September 6, 2016. Knopf Books for Young Reader, 352 p. ISBN: 9780399550492.  Int Lvl: YA; Rdg Lvl: YA; Lexile: 900.

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.

Potentially Sensitive Areas: Strong language; Bullying

 

Author Interview

Reviews

Booklist starred (September 15, 2016 (Vol. 113, No. 2))
Grades 9-12. This Australian author’s beautifully written YA debut follows a lower-middle-class Chinese Australian teen who wins a prestigious scholarship to an exclusive all-girls school and struggles to find herself among the snobby mean girls. In a letter to Linh, the constant friend she’s left behind, 15-year-old Lucy recounts her first year as an “Equal Access” scholarship student at Laurinda Ladies’ College. Once fearlessly outspoken and full of fun, Lucy has become withdrawn and unsure of herself. A small group of rich, spoiled, and casually racist girls, known as the Cabinet, dominates her class and play horrible pranks on students and teachers with impunity. With the help of a male teacher and a popular boy from a nearby private boys school who’s not ashamed of being lower-middle class, Lucy learns to stand up for herself and reject the Cabinet. Lucy’s biting comments about Laurinda and her struggle to reconcile her school and home life in the dilapidated and rundown town of Stanley effectively ring true as she realizes her family’s immigrant life there is precious. The reveal of the truth of her relationship with Linh is seamlessly incorporated into the narrative. Lucy’s struggle to find her place and sense of self will have a wide appeal for teen readers and is a welcome addition to the prep-school canon.

School Library Journal (September 1, 2016)
Gr 8 Up-Life is not easy for Lucy Lam. Her immigrant mother and father work seemingly never-ending hours to make life bearable for her and her young brother in suburban Stanley, Australia. Lucy can’t help but compare herself to her more outgoing friends, especially Linh, who always seems to come out on top with her easy retorts and spunky attitude. When she and her classmates learn of a contest for a full ride scholarship to the most prestigious private school in the area, all the girls try out. To everyone’s surprise, Lucy gets the spot and quickly feels the pressure to assimilate to the glamorous lifestyle of the school. At first, leaving her old life seems like the perfect plan, and she soon loses touch with everyone, including Linh. Will Lucy realize the importance of her past and stay true to herself? Pung revitalizes the popular “mean girls against the new girl” trope in a surprising new way by revealing the difficulty in distinguishing between good and bad in this engaging novel. She deftly creates a story that immerses readers and makes this world relatable. Young adults will root for quirky Lucy and will be checked by a big twist at the end. VERDICT This daring work with an authentic protagonist teaches important lessons about being yourself while navigating through life. A strong purchase that will captivate teens and adults alike.-DeHanza Kwong, Central Piedmont Community College, Charlotte, NC

About the Author

Alice Pung is an Australian author whose award-winning books span the genres of memoir, non-fiction, anthology, young adult and children’s fiction. Alice’s first book Unpolished Gem won the 2007 Australian Book Industry Award for Newcomer of the Year. Her second book, Her Father’s Daughter, won the 2011 Western Australia Premier’s Literary Award, and her first novel, Laurinda won the 2016 Ethel Turner Prize. Laurinda is published in the United States as Lucy and Linh, and has been a Kirkus-starred book.

Her website is www.alicepung.com.

Teacher Resources

Lucy and Linh (Laurinda) Teaching Notes

Around the Web

Lucy and Linh on Amazon

Lucy and Linh on JLG

Lucy and Linh on Goodreads

 

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