Book Reviews

Book Review: Laurinda by Alice Pung

Fifteen-year-old Lucy Lam wins a scholarship to a prestigious ladies’ college, Laurinda. Her parents are Chinese-Vietnamese refugees & her mother works from home sewing clothes while her dad works on a factory. There’s also her baby brother nicknamed the Lamb. Lucy loves her family & they, in their ever-pragmatic way, love her & want her to do her best. But when she starts at Laurinda, it’s a different world to her old Catholic school. She is drawn into the school politics with the 3 popular girls – referred to as The Cabinet – & gets insider information into their manipulative behaviours. Lucy tries to leave but it turns out, it might not be so easy after all. She is trapped & trying to figure out who she really is. 

I liked the premise of Laurinda & had been wanting to read it for a while. Having worked in an all-girls school, I am aware of some of the inner workings that have left me stunned. However, it was nothing like Laurinda which is a whole different level of meanness & cruelty. Splash in some subtle racism {I’m-not-racist-but…} & elitism, & you have got yourself a movie here. I’ve also worked with refugee families in some of Sydney’s lower SES areas & Lucy’s experiences were reminiscent of that to me. Having said that, I found something lacking. I’ve been reflecting on this & I feel like maybe it was just a bit too far-fetched for me in terms of the meanness & callousness. Plus, I struggled with the supposed twist towards the end. 

I liked Lucy’s parents & the few other few shining lights in Lucy’s life such as some of her teachers & friends. But it didn’t hold my attention all the time. It’s still an interesting read especially if you enjoy slightly darker books with themes of racism, identity, class, & belongingness.

My rating:

Book Details:

CategoryFiction, Young Adult
PublisherBlack Inc Books
Publishing DateOctober 2014

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  • Shilpa Gupte
    28 January 2021 at 1:57 am

    The story reminds me of a couple of Hollywood films I saw years ago…Mean Girls, for example. Have you seen it? It may be different from the story in the book, but the meanness of the girls in the film was such. I too studied in an all girls college and for me, it was such a happy experience. 🙂

    • Sanch @ Sanch Writes
      28 January 2021 at 6:32 am

      I have seen it! And the author references it in her acknowledgements. Luckily I studied in a co-ed school so it was fine but I have heard of the nastiness in girls schools and I do about cliques etc having worked in them. Especially these days!