Review Blog

Jun 19 2011

Con-Nerd by Oliver Phommavahn

cover image

Puffin Books, 2011. ISBN: 9780143304869.
Con-Nerd is a clever and entertaining book describing the dilemma of a Chinese student, Connor, and the academic pressures placed upon him by his stereotypically Asian mother. Connor's mother has expectations that he will study medicine and become a doctor. This academic expectation on Connor increases as he prepares to sit the test to gain entry into the 'selective' secondary school. Connor, on the other hand, is more interested in pursuing his talent in art and seeking the interest of the new Korean girl in his class rather than focusing on his study. Meanwhile, Connor's abilities as a cartoonist has made him increasingly popular around his school. This is set to culminate in a community art competition held at the local hospital, where his mother works as a nurse. The story continues as Connor attempts to juggle the expectations of his mother and his new found popular sporty friends.
Con-Nerd would be an excellent book to recommend to any student aged 10-14 who is facing similar dilemmas in balancing the expectations of his parents and their need to pursue alternate interests and friendships. At some level, most teachers will recognise aspects of Connor's character in some students.
Adam Fitzgerald

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