I Want Candy

Author: Kim Wong Keltner

Publisher: Avon

Release Date: January 2008

Blue Ribbon Rating: 4.5

Format: PRINT

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The year is 1983, and fourteen-year-old Candace Ong misses the only adult in her family who understood her, deceased Aunt Melaura.  Before her adoring but suicidal aunt jumped off the bridge, she’d called Candace her precious flawless diamond.  Memories surrounding her beauty queen aunt and her jade necklace gift comfort Candace who is certain she will always be a dork. She allows her best friend, Ruby Ping, to put her down.  Candace is grateful to be her sidekick even though Ruby ditches her to meet pot smoking, white-guy punks. 

Candace is embarrassed when her immigrant parents bark out broken English.  Living with her parents and younger brother, Kenny, above the bustling restaurant, Candace finds solace in the concrete backyard amidst garbage cans.  Lately Kenny is there, too, but he is blowing up lizards with firecrackers.  She doesn’t tell on him, and he doesn’t tell when she steals tip money off tables or sneaks out.  More than anything, Candace wants a boy to like her.  Then, maybe, she will gain Ruby’s respect.  When will she gain her own?

This potent coming of age story, I WANT CANDY, follows the racial struggle of a Chinese girl in San Francisco.  Writer Kim Wong Keltner writes a true account of dual culture adjustment with wit and insight.  Wong Keltner’s dialogue is snappy, and Candace’s conflicted efforts make I WANT CANDY a fascinating read.  Because of its explicit sexual content, I recommend this book to readers over the age of eighteen unless a parent reads with a teen.

By Romance Junkies Reviewer: Kathleen R

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