I don’t think i realized Beautiful Country by J.R. Thornton was a YA title until I started reading it. It certainly wasn’t marketed as a YA read, but the tone and language gave it away immediately. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it’s just that, as you know, i don’t go in for much YA.
Beautiful Country was billed, quite rightly, as a coming of age story. It’s about a young tennis player named Chase who is sent to Beijing (against his will) to train with a tennis team there. So as you can imagine the story is very tennis-focused with a strong element of stranger in a strange land.
Those are the things I enjoyed about the novel. What I wasn’t so fond of what the simplistic way in which cultural differences were handled. Overall, I felt it was a very simplistic novel – the language, the concepts etc. That is what gave it away as a YA novel. To be honest, I would have no hesitation in giving it to my 9 year old daughter. Content and language would not be an issue.
Who would like this book? I would argue that this book is definitely for a younger reader. I think it would be a great way of introducing cultural difference and can see it as a good book to be taught in schools. Thornton is both a tennis player and has spent long periods of time in China, so he knows of which he speaks. So overall, i would give it a fairly high rating for the right audience. I just wasn’t the right audience as I am not accustomed to reading works for teens and pre-teens.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss.