At first glance, high school senior, straight-A student, and obedient daughter Frances Ching appears to be perfect. Frances's mother, Gracie, works long hours to support Frances's elite schooling. In return, she expects Frances to become a successful doctor, to support her, and never to leave her side.
Frances has always done whatever Gracie wants—until she discovers a talent for speech competition, which she pursues against Gracie's wishes and behind her back. Frances's success in speech leads to an opportunity that would allow Frances to follow her dreams. Frances must then decide whether to betray her own desires or to betray the person who has sacrificed everything for her success. Meanwhile, threatened with losing her daughter and the future she has worked so hard for, Gracie sabotages Frances's plans, resulting in a fierce power struggle between mother and daughter. Who will win? And at what cost?
Bitter Melon is an unforgettable story of a young woman finding her voice against a background of strong cultural tradition and a mother whose ambition for her shows two very different sides to maternal love.
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"This debut reads like a searing, contemporary story of timeless parent-child friction across cultural and generational borders ... Readers will connect with Frances' fury and yearning as well as her sense of empowerment when she begins to find her voice."
"Teens will be able to identify with the intense pressure Frances is under to succeed ... Debut novelist Chow's descriptions, dialogue, and details of Chinese-American life in 1980s San Francisco shine, and Frances's growth is rewarding."
“Illuminate[s] the demanding expectations of “stage parents” and the frustrations of their driven offspring.”