About the book
Author: Alice Pung
Edition: E-Book, 314 pages
Published: Black Inc, 2014
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Australian
My Rating: 3/5
Challenge(s): COYER, Diversity on the Shelf, Dive into Diversity
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Blurb: Laurinda is an exclusive school for girls. At its secret core is the Cabinet, a trio of girls who wield power over their classmates - and some of their teachers. Entering this world of wealth and secrets is Lucy Lam, a scholarship girl with sharp eyes and a shaky sense of self. As she watches the Cabinet at work, and is courted by them, Lucy finds herself in a battle for her identity and integrity. Funny, feisty and moving, Laurinda explores Lucy’s struggle to stay true to herself as she finds her way in a new world of privilege and opportunity
I found Laurinda to be a fun but meaningful read. It was very easy for me to identify with the main character, Lucy, as I too am a Chinese born and raised in Australia with parents who immigrated to here much later in their lives. I could relate to many aspects of how Lucy struggled communicating with her parents due to language or cultural barriers and the culturally insensitive assumptions made of her when meeting new people or making friends.
The antagonists of the novel, a trio of popular girls that were referred to as the Cabinet were closet racists, megalomaniacs and frustratingly unassailable, that is, until Lucy came into the picture. Their ruthlessness reign of tyranny at Laurinda reminded me a lot of Regina, Gretchen and Karen from the movie Mean Girls though a major difference was that the Cabinet was actually intelligent. They definitely were a formidable force in the book as they committed manipulative pranks with devastating consequences. Though at times I felt as though the power they held over the school was a bit unrealistic.
The romance in this book, though present, was very much background noise to Lucy's daily life. I wish this was developed a bit more as it felt like a loose end that never got tied up.
The big thing that fell through for me was actually the major plot twist. I am unsure why, but when I first finished reading the book I had not actually picked up on the twist. It was only until I rated the book on Goodreads, read some spoiler reviews (I enjoy doing this after I finish a book to see what people thought about events that transpired in the plot) and realised I totally missed the plot twist. I then went back and read snippets of the book to make sense of it, and well, not everything made sense any more. Re-reading a book after knowing the jaw dropping ending can be an awesome experience (e.g. Fight Club) but this was not the case for Laurinda. Some parts of the book just didn't make any sense to me anymore and I struggled to work out what had actually happened. Though the twist was definitely shocking, I don't think it was entirely necessary or it could have been executed better to avoid resulting in so many plot holes. As I keep my reviews spoiler free, I do not want to give too much away here so I will leave it at that. obviously don't want to give too much away here, as I keep my reviews spoiler free, so I will leave it at that.
Laurinda is great for those looking for a diverse, contemporary read. I think it does a fantastic job at representing what life is like for a teenager Australian born Chinese and takes a clever and witty spin on the classic "Mean Girls" scenario. It was definitely a unique book that I enjoyed, but the somewhat unnecessary plot twist took it down a few notches for me. Nevertheless I would still recommend it to others as it represented some aspects of my own life very well and from what I read from other reviews, the plot twist was not as disappointing for most.