Book Review: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

Diversity Can Exist in America, and In Romance Novels Too

By Morgan Kail-Ackerman
Contributor to The Underground

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang is a 2019 contemporary romance novel book that is sure to melt your heart, and keep you excited the entire time. Although this is the second book in the series, you can follow characters and plot without reading The Kiss Quotient, the first book in Hoang’s universe.

This beautiful love story is a modern Cinderella retelling, but this time the story is told with diversity and equality. It follows Esme, a Vietnamese woman, who is given the opportunity to live in America by Cô Nga, the mother of our romantic male hero, as long as she tries to seduce Khai into marriage. Khai, on the other hand, is dealing with the death of his best friend, Andy. As someone who is told over and over that he cannot feel emotions due to his autism, Khai believes he has a heart of stone and blames himself for Andy’s death.

The Bride Test has a perfect balance of everything you will want. It is a well-written story, gives fully dimensional characters, and keeps you interested with every page. On the whole, it is a romance novel that makes you fall in love with these characters, root for their relationship, and believe in everything they are fighting for.

In addition to being a solid romance novel, the story pushes diversity in the romance genre. Both of the romantic leads are people of color, and one is not American. Throughout the novel, Esme speaks in Vietnamese or choppy English. In fact, the last line of the novel is in Vietnamese.

The book also features a positive, well-written representation of autism from Helen Hoang, who is autistic herself. We learn from and support Khai as he figures out his autism and emotions. Esme is likewise not well-educated, and spends parts of the novel trying to find herself while seeking higher education. These aspects are not generally seen in a mainstream romance novel, so Helen Hoang’s novel brings a gorgeous new story to the landscape of the modern romance genre.

Nevertheless, The Bride Test can be a little predictable. It is a Cinderella-retelling and the plot is straightforward, so maybe that is where the predictability lies. Yet it is a positive predictability. You can guess where the novel is going, but that does not mean you will not enjoy the ride.

If you are looking for a contemporary and diverse romance novel, look no further! The Bride Test is for anyone who is looking for a beautiful and sexy love story.

Event Review: Books on the Chopping Block with City Lit Theatre

By Olivia Muran
Contributor to The Underground

On Friday, September 27, DePaul celebrated Banned Books Week by hosting Books on the Chopping Block, a live performance by the City Lit Theater Company. The event kicked off at 1 p.m. in the John T. Richardson Library on DePaul’s Lincoln Park campus. Banned Books Week is an annual event hosted by the Office for Intellectual Freedom at the American Library Association. The event raises awareness of the censorship that seeks to dull the intellectual flame of readers across the nation. Regarding the dulling of said figurative flame, the theme of the event this year was “Censorship Leaves Us in the Dark,” urging everyone to “Keep the Light On.”

At DePaul, four members of the City Lit Theater Company performed selections from the Top 10 Banned Books on 2018’s list, including the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, and Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. The list also featured many children’s picture books, such as Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner and A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss. In order to make it on the Banned Books list, these titles must have multiple formal complaints or ‘challenges’ filed against them in an effort to remove access in libraries and schools nationwide. Six out of the ten books on the list were banned because of LGBTQIA+ content, while others were banned for addressing teen suicide or political viewpoints.

The performance selections featured a mix of comedy and serious content. Many of the passages read showcased the importance of the book at hand, advocating accessibility as well as removal from banned lists nationwide. For example, the number one challenged book of 2018 was George by Alex Gino, which tells the story of a transgender character during adolescence. The passage performed at DePaul showcased the book’s child-like innocence of George’s experience, though the topic is controversial among certain book communities. As a result, Gino’s George has been banned, challenged, and relocated from libraries and schools.

The Top Banned Books list serves to call our attention to the censorship that books face when the content presents controversial topics. By filing formal complaints, censors restrict access to diverse communities and decide which books can and cannot be read. In turn, participation and awareness of events like Books on the Chopping Block during Banned Books Week continues to defend these restricted books and works to “Keep the Light On” when “Censorship Keeps Us in the Dark.”

Women’s Voices, Irish Writing: 300 Years Of Speaking Out

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Dr. Angela Bourke, author of The Burning of Bridget Cleary and Maeve Brennan: Homesick at the New Yorker, will examine the disruptive effects of Irish women’s voices from the 18th century to the present. Focusing on representative individuals across the period, Bourke will begin with oral lament poetry before turning to the modern era and figures such as Bridget Cleary, Molly Ivors in James Joyce’s “The Dead,” Irish-born Maeve Brennan of The New Yorker, and contemporary Irish poet Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill.

Wednesday, November 8, 4:30-5:30 PM
Richardson Library, Room 300

Bourke has published creative and non-fiction work in both English and the Irish language. She teaches at UCD and has been a visiting professor at a number of American universities. Bourke was a co-editor of volumes 4 and 5 of the Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing and is a member of the Royal Irish Academy.

Chasing Wilder in Chicago: Thornton Wilder’s The Eighth Day

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The Wilder Family and The Newberry Library present “Chasing Wilder in Chicago: Thornton Wilder’s The Eighth Day” on

Wednesday, November 15 at 5 PM
Ruggles Hall at the Newberry Library
60 W Walton St, Chicago, IL 60610

This 50th anniversary celebration of Wilder’s National Book Award-winning, Chicago-based novel will feature a conversation with Thornton Wilder’s nephew and literary executor Tappan Wilder, Jeremy McCarter and Liesl Olson; readings from the novel by professional Chicago-area actors; and cake!  The event starts at 5pm with a reception and it’s all free and open to the public. Reservations are recommended.

Learn more!

American Writers Museum Opening May 16

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Chicago, home to many marvelous museums, will boast yet another one on May 16, when the American Writers Museum will open its doors to the public. Current exhibits include Jack Kerouac’s scroll–on which he wrote On the Road— the anatomy of a masterwork, and a word waterfall.

The museum is located at 180 N. Michigan Avenue, Second Floor. Admission for students with a valid student ID is $8.

For more information, check out their website — which includes a handy roundup of literary resources.

Emoji Dick: Prequels and Sequels

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Emoji Dick is a crowd sourced and crowd funded translation of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick into Japanese emoticons called emoji. Each of the book’s approximately 10,000 sentences has been translated three times by a Amazon Mechanical Turk worker. These results have been voted upon by another set of workers, and the most popular version of each sentence has been selected for inclusion in this book. In total, over eight hundred people spent approximately 3,795,980 seconds working to create this book. Each worker was paid five cents per translation and two cents per vote per translation. The funds to pay the Amazon Turk workers and print the initial run of this book were raised from eighty-three people over the course of thirty days using the funding platform Kickstarter.