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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

David Brailovsky Reviews Intrigue in the House of Wong

Title: Intrigue in the House of Wong
Author: Amy S. Kwei
Publisher: Tats Publishing, PO Box 425478, Cambridge, MA 02142
Date published: 6/1/2008
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-9815499-0-3
Available at and

Reviewed by David Brailovsky

I enjoyed very much reading Amy Kwei’s “ Intrigue in the house of Wong”. She succeeded in an interesting and effortless way to explain Chinese culture, values and traditions.

A better understanding between East and West is a major concern of the book. The “House of Wong” is a great way for the younger generation to do away with stereotypes and prejudices. The plot makes it fun reading.

I recommend it highly.

Reviewer David Brailovsky is the author of "A Covenant in Shanghai". Available at

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1 comment:

Anna Fang said...

A new home, a new school, and mysteries to solve. How does 14-year-old Wendy Wong navigate all these changes and puzzles while being part of a family that is proud of their Chinese culture and values, even when these are sometimes at odds with American life? Intrigue in the House of Wong, a young adult novel by Amy Kwei, combines suspense and humor to tell the story of Wendy and her family’s move from the insular yet familiar New York Chinatown to the Upper East Side of New York where they plan to open a new restaurant.

But first there are obstacles to overcome. The local Community Board objects to the restaurant fa├žade and puts a halt to construction. Bricks thrown by hoodlums shatter their restaurant window. And just when it seems the restaurant problems are over, Wendy overhears a possible plot to harm a family friend. Wendy must stop the plot and persuade her parents to go beyond their life-long practice of trusting only fellow Chinese immigrants and learn to reach out to their neighbors.

Wendy feels the weight of familial responsibility as the first in her family to attend a private school after she wins a scholarship. On the one hand, she wants to make her family proud; on the other hand Wendy would like not to worry about how every one of her actions reflects back on her family, as her parents and grandparents keep reminding her. Wendy’s instant messages with her friend Debbie and her growing friendship with David DiVario give her a chance to enjoy being a ‘normal’ teenager. But when her family doesn’t even want her to date until college how can she and David become more than just friends?

Ms. Kwei gives the teenagers a modern voice, while also explaining the older Wongs’ reluctance to interact with non-Chinese as they describe the Exclusion acts that curtailed immigration and kept families apart. This is done at a banquet that includes the Wongs, the DiVarios, Mrs. Horton, and the Ben Zvis, reflecting the multi-ethnic makeup of the city. During the sumptuous courses which Ms. Kwei so flavorfully describes, each guest makes his or her point how each has experienced being an immigrant or newcomer, and how each makes connections, not only through ethnic groups, but work, church, political groups and other ways.

Can Wendy foil the plot? Will the Wongs’ restaurant succeed? Only if Wendy can keep a step ahead of the kidnappers and only if her family can learn to trust the ‘outsiders’ they’ve traditionally avoided.

Readers can order the book from and The book includes a Reading Group Guide, making it an excellent choice for a book group or class selection.