Review of Bubble Trouble

Bubble Trouble Bubble Trouble
by Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Intermediate, Middle School    Scholastic    240 pp.
7/23    9781338802146    $18.99

Shang finds the right blend of serious and comedic in this novel about friendship, grief, and tween romance. Musical theater fan Chloe Wong, still grieving the loss of her mother, an ER doctor who died from COVID-19, yearns to attend her middle school’s Broadway trip, but she’s afraid her widowed inventor father cannot afford the $375 ticket. Determined to pay her way to New York City, Chloe (with best friend Sabrina’s help) brainstorms money-making ideas involving the Tea Palace, where her show tune–hating classmate/sometimes crush, Henry, happens to work. Several screwball events ensue when Chloe gets banned from the tea shop after confronting the local mean girl and eventually starts her own bubble tea business with help from friends and family. (Foodies will enjoy the detailed descriptions of the flavors and bubble tea–making process.) Some of the novel’s strongest passages are also the most heartfelt: those focusing on Chloe missing her mother, the kindness Henry shows Chloe, and the epiphany our protagonist reaches at the end. “The house was never going to be like it was with Mom, but we could still have love, just a different kind, with different people and creatures. And happiness. And mistakes.”

From the July/August 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Michelle Lee

Michelle Lee is a young adult librarian for the New York Public Library.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.