Title: The Great Call of China (part of the S.A.S.S. series)
Author: Cynthea Liu
Published by: Speak, February 2009
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Travel
Recommended to: Teen girls, 11 and up
Overall Score: B
Cece Charles was adopted when she was two years old from China and now, at seventeen, is living in Texas. Cece loves her parents, but has always felt like part of her is missing--and it is. She wants to know what her birth parents were like, why they gave her up, if they loved her. And the perfect opportunity presents itself when she's accepted into the Students Across the Seven Seas (S.A.S.S.)'s exchange student program in Xi'an, China. Now, Cece can escape from another boring summer back home with her overprotective mom, dig deeper into her passion of anthropology, and possibly learn about her background. But China's a lot different than Cece imagined: the food is nothing like she's expected (ie fish heads with eyes still in), and she's discovering some parts of Chinese culture that relate to her that she's having trouble grasping....Luckily, Cece has Will, a cute fellow student, and some good friends. And with a little luck, Cece might learn more than culture and language. She might learn about herself, too...
My thoughts: I've always been a big fan of this series: what's there not to love? Travel, romance, friendship...My one fear for this book was that it was just going to be a repeat of every other book in the series: girl travels to different country, meets cute guy, stumbles upon a conflict....But I was pleasantly surprised. I really liked how Ms. Liu created her story about Cece's journey to find her birth parents. It was a unique plotline from all the rest of the S.A.S.S. books, which made this addition to the series so much more interesting and personal. Cece herself was a well-rounded and realistic character who was not annoying in any way. (:
I found this one really slow to begin, but luckily once Cece landed in China, the pace picked up quite a bit. Some parts were a bit slow and overly informational (although necessary), and in other places, I was a bit bored, waiting for something to happen. But I wasn't disappointed. The ending to me, although bittersweet, perfectly rounded up the story, and overall the plot was well-thought-out, unique, and fun. The plot wasn't anything special, it was very simple and easy to understand, but fun all the time. I felt like I was walking beside Cece while she explored China the whole time! Although a bit predictable, The Great Call of China was still a charming, humorous, and sweet addition to the series. I can't wait to pick up the next book now!
PS I just love these covers--so cute!