Converse, P.J. Subway Girl. 256 p. Harper Teen. 2011. Hardcover $16.99. ISBN 9780061575143.
Two isolated teens meet on a Hong Kong subway: Amy, a Chinese-American transplant who hardly speaks any Chinese and has a scandalous reputation, and Simon, who is failing English and is about to drop out of school. The two face considerable barriers in forging a relationship, but somehow, they'll make it work.
Subway Girl is a novel about meeting someone who changes your whole perspective on life, and in some ways, this theme comes through beautifully. Amy and Simon give each other unexpected confidence in the areas where they're most vulnerable. On the other hand, I felt like there was no resolution on how their relationship really changed either of them in the long term. I wasn't left with a strong sense of where either of these characters were going.
Despite its weaknesses, however, I found this book to be a quick and engaging read, with a curiously un-put-downable quality. I liked the book's Hong Kong setting, and I liked Simon's adorably earnest character. I found myself really wanting to know what would happen to these two teens who were just trying to figure out how to connect with each other.
So often, young adult books set in other countries tend to be historical fiction. As if teens all over the world right now aren't going through all of the same struggles and emotions? It's refreshing to find a contemporary novel set in an intriguing location like Hong Kong, so I will be buying this book for my library.
Subway Girl will be available in stores on March 15. ARC for review received from the publisher.