Book Review – The Life of a Banana by PP Wong

When her mother dies in a freak accident, our 12-year-old narrator Xing and older brother Lai Ker move in with their domineering grandmother, disabled uncle and wannabe-actress aunt.
bananaXing starts attending a posh school in a rich part of London and finds herself longing for her old life of relative poverty. She is bullied by the nasty girls in her school, but does find a kindred spirit in mixed race classical-music-loving Jay.

The book is at turns sad and humorous, as we follow Xing as she adapts to her new life while dealing with the grief of losing her mother. She has to put up with her very unfriendly grandmother, and strives to find out what is wrong with her unusual uncle. Her brother is also busy getting up to no good…

I was surprised that this isn’t marketed as a young adult novel, as the young narrator really gives the book that feel – her narrative is laced with cockney mannerisms and some of her observations are naive and child-like. It is also a really quick and easy read.

Although this is quite a sweet novel, which manages to be funny and upsetting at the same time, it didn’t always work that well for me. It didn’t really challenge me enough, and some of the events were a bit over the top and unrealistic. However overall it was an enjoyable enough read, and I did enjoy the banter between Xing and her brother.

My rating: 6 out of 10

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