The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei is a wonderfully warm-hearted, gently humorous story of navigating friendships, of self-discovery and of finding your way in a new place.
12-year-old Holly-Mei is attending summer camp, but she has been rejected by her friends after her keen sense of fairness gets her blamed not only for the cancellation of their end-of-year pizza party, but also for losing them the field hockey game. When her parents tell her that the family are moving to Hong Kong as her mother has got a promotion, she is at first reluctant to leave her friends, despite their falling out. However, the more she learns about the move, the more excited she becomes, confident that a fresh start will easily lead to new friends. Her only regret is leaving her beloved Ah-ma behind in Toronto.
But will making new friends come as easily to Holly-Mei as she expects them to, or will her tendency to speak without thinking, lead to friction? Will she find settling into a new life in Hong Kong easy, or will she have a lot to learn about new expectations and rules? And, how will she cope when one member of her new friendship group makes it obvious that she doesn’t want her in the group?
Holly-Mei is an incredibly likeable young girl, and I loved joining her on her path to forming new friendships, fitting in to her new private school and exploring the sights and foods of Hong Kong as she learns more about her heritage and culture. I really admired how she stands up for herself; how she deals with the pressures and expectations that are unwittingly put upon her by others; and, how she is determined to help heal a broken friendship with her group whilst coming to realise the importance of old friendships alongside new ones. I loved her optimism, her kindness and her consideration for others.
I really enjoyed this own voices story and learnt so much from it as Taiwanese-British, Holly-Mei, adjusts to life in Hong Kong – a life amongst the wealthy and elite which brings pressures, opportunities and rewards. I love the ‘realness’ of this story: the day-to-day life of hanging out with friends, going to school, exploring the local area, overcoming difficulties and adjusting as a family to a new life away from the familiar.
This is a gorgeously heart-warming story of navigating friendships, self-discovery and finding your place, perfect for readers of 9+.
Thank you to Tatti for inviting me to take part in the Blog Tour, and for providing me with a copy of The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei in exchange for my honest opinion.
Do check out the other stops on the Tour: