Sarong Party Girls by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan [in Library Journal]
Jazzy is still single at almost 27. When her BFF-quartet lost Sher to the dream they all aspire to – marrying an “ang moh,” a wealthy Western expat, because local Singaporean men “are a bit fussy” about “older girls” – Jazzy decides she needs a strategy to achieve such privilege and power through an international match. Still living with her parents and working as a newspaper editor-in-chief’s assistant, Jazzy spends most evenings with her remaining BFFs as sarong party girls on the hunt.
Fueled by materialistic pressures and too-easy hedonism, Jazzy and crew drink, dance, flirt, and audition potential suitors with varied results. Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan’s debut novel, following a memoir, A Tiger in the Kitchen, is seemingly meant to be light entertainment, although underlying issues of race and class can’t be ignored; that Jazzy and friends target wealthy white men as would-be saviors is an all-too-familiar, albeit disturbing, trope.
Verdict: Flaws aside (self-absorption and overpartying quickly induce eye-rolling tedium), Tan’s work gets a spirited boost from narrator Angela Lin, who embodies Tan’s Singlish – “the patois that most Singaporeans speak to one another” – with energetic, pitch-perfect intonation, making Lin the real life of this imperfect Party.