Mambo in Chinatown

Mambo in Chinatown

A Novel

eBook - 2014
Average Rating:
Rate this:

From the bestselling author of Girl in Translation, a novel about a young woman torn between her family duties in Chinatown and her escape into the world of ballroom dancing.

Twenty-two-year-old Charlie Wong grew up in New York's Chinatown, the older daughter of a Beijing ballerina and a noodle maker. Though an ABC (America-born Chinese), Charlie's entire world has been limited to this small area. Now grown, she lives in the same tiny apartment with her widower father and her eleven-year-old sister, and works—miserably—as a dishwasher.

But when she lands a job as a receptionist at a ballroom dance studio, Charlie gains access to a world she hardly knew existed, and everything she once took to be certain turns upside down. Gradually, at the dance studio, awkward Charlie's natural talents begin to emerge. With them, her perspective, expectations, and sense of self are transformed—something she must take great pains to hide from her father and his suspicion of all things Western. As Charlie blossoms, though, her sister becomes chronically ill. As Pa insists on treating his ailing child exclusively with Eastern practices to no avail, Charlie is forced to try to reconcile her two selves and her two worlds—Eastern and Western, old world and new—to rescue her little sister without sacrificing her newfound confidence and identity.

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Aug 19, 2017

The parts I enjoyed the most were the ones in which I learned about Chinese traditions and culture.

Jul 11, 2016

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It was a quick light book.

Jun 16, 2015

The tug-of-war between traditional immigrant parents and their North American born children is very real, but unless the book is set in the 20th century, I felt that this hand was overplayed, particularly for a 22-year-old. Additionally, the characters' lack of computer availability to research information made the book feel dated. Having said that, the segments that dealt with dance seemed quite smoothly written - although the likelihood that an inadequate receptionist could become a professional dance instructor was a bit exaggerated. It is , however a Cinderella story for Charlie. As for Lisa, not so lucky. I enjoyed the story. The romance plot was well choreographed, the sub-score with Ryan and his boxing mates was offbeat, and a (mostly) happy ending is fine.

soblessed59 Mar 27, 2015

I enjoy books that show other cultures,and Mambo In Chinatown showed two American-Chinese sisters and their struggle of trying to acclimate fully into American culture when they have a father and an uncle who are steadfastly anchored to old-school China.

The author skillfully develops the characters,and the story.

I immediately loved Charlie and her little sister Lisa,and I was totally captivated by their story.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the insights to Chinese culture,even though I was totally grossed out by the uncle's disgusting-gag-a-maggot health remedies,that would have made me run away from home!

The story is told with much humor and charm.

Highly recommended for those who enjoy a feel-good story

Jan 13, 2015

***** Charlie, the older daughter of an old-school overworked and underpaid widowed Chinese man, comes of age at great risk to the thin fabric that holds her struggling family together -- only to resew it with tensile-strength thread. By itself, the description of her interview at the dance studio is worth the time to read the whole book -- but that's only one one gem in a sparkling charm bracelet of a novel. Also, check out Kwok's emotion-tugging debut novel, Girl in Translation, about impoverished Chinese immigrants who become indentured servants to family members as the price of their tickets.

Aug 11, 2014

Fascinating look behind the scenes of professional ballroom dancing -- an "ugly duckling" becomes a swan in spite of herself.

d2013 Jul 07, 2014

This is a great book. Can't help but pull for "Charlie" as she grows into her own. Recommended!


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further


Subject Headings

MARINet owns a similar edition of this title.

View originally-listed edition

Report edition-matching error

To Top