I Want Candy
Kim Wong Kellner
Avon, Feb 2008, $13.95
In San Francisco fourteen years old Candace Ong knows first hand what being Chinese-American truly means. Her Chinese parents work at the Eggroll Wonderland Chinese restaurant. They believe she is their obedient "eggroll girl" working at the restaurant, doing well in school and staying out of trouble.
However that is the Chinese side of her. The American side that she hides from her parents wants to explore the streets of the city with her friend Ruby. Candace envies Ruby as she does not slave in a hot kitchen. That summer Candace has a chance to spend time with Ruby, but can a protected young teen survive the means streets of San Francisco.
Told from Candace’s perspective, readers will appreciate this insightful look at a teenager whose Americanization is at odds with her parents’ Old Country beliefs. Her name symbolizes the issues of assimilation as she has a common American first name and a Chinese surname. Candace is terrific as her parents assume she is their dutiful “eggroll girl” while she explores the mean streets of San Francisco with enthusiasm and awe, but not all she encounters is positive as she meets some appalling people. This is a deep character study of a young teen pulled in two directions by her friends and her parents.