Difficulty rating: ★★★★✩ Tough Cookie
Les Lettres Chinoises follows the heartbreaking story of two lovers, Sassa and Yuan, after Yuan emigrates from their hometown Shanghai to the faraway Montréal. The book is written in letter form, featuring the correspondance between the two lovers, as well as between Sassa and her friend Da Li, who moved to Montréal at about the same time as Yuan. Yuan and Sassa struggle with culture shock, depression, and the trials of a long distance relationship, while Da Li struggles with an ever-changing love life and a fear of commitment.
Les Lettres Chinoises is impeccably written. The author, Ying Chen, perfectly captures the trials of culture shock, depression, and the young adult experience in general. Don't read Les Lettres Chinoises if you've just gone through a breakup (it's a bit of a downer), but definitely read it if you like books with a realistic view on life/love. Definitely read this novel if you are interested in comparing and contrasting modern North American culture and Modern Chinese culture.
★★★★✩ Tough Cookie
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Les Lettres Chinoises is meant for both a young adult and adult audience (although it does not contain any explicit material), meaning that it will use difficult vocabulary and grammar structures. The book is short, categorized as a "livre de poche", which means that it is between 300 and 400 pages, and therefore not especially lengthy. Tactful readers should be able to read around difficult vocabulary without needing a dictionary. The book's layout - as short letters written between the characters - makes the text less dense, more , and an overall easier read. Because the text is in letter form, there is very little imagery, which means the vocabulary, while advanced, isn't especially complicated or superfluous. This letter layout is the main reason that we categorized the book as ★★★★✩ Tough Cookie rather than ★★★★★ Say What?!
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