I was graciously contacted by the author, Jo Ho, to receive a copy of “Monkey Nut Tales” in exchange for an honest review. That being said, it has not altered my opinion of the book whatsoever. “Monkey Nut Tales” was published on January 24th 2017 and is available for purchase.
Well, Jo Ho has done it again. Which proves that no matter what genre she chooses to write, she will ultimately succeed. “Monkey Nut Tales” is completely different than “Wanted“, the first book I read- the two are not related at all. While “Wanted” is more of the action packed, hold on to your seat kind of book, “Monkey Nut Tales” is loosely based off of Ho’s life, and is written in screenplay format.
Oh don’t you dare roll your eyes over screenplay format. . .look how well Fantastic Beasts did! As I’ve said before, screenplay writing allows readers to breeze through the material, quite honestly, faster than if you were to read a regular book. That’s my two cents, but if you haven’t read a screenplay, give it a try!
After my review of “Wanted” Jo had contacted regarding this brand new piece she had published. She said she had been toying with the idea for some time now, and wanted something that was real and raw to come out. Enter “Monkey Nut Tales”, loosely based on Jo’s younger years and how mental illness doesn’t just effect one person.
Our story opens with different scenes. In a quick scene, Grandma, who lives in Hong Kong, is on a plane traveling to her estranged daughter, and a granddaughter she has never met. Cut scene to England, and we have a house in disarray, and a child cooking herself lunch while a social worker looks on. Mai (the child) retreats to her bedroom. In my opinion, this is where we see Mai take things that are ordinary, and turn them extraordinary. While staring at Hello Kitty lamp, the figures jump to life and play in the shadows- nothing sinister mind you- just a girl letting her imagination run wild and not settling on reality.
The social worker takes Mai to school, and Mai would like to know when she is able to see her mother. She’s told as soon as her grandma arrives. Upon arriving home, Mai finds her grandmother. Having never met one another, things are a bit awkward, as if no one knows how to relate to the other. Mai is protective of her mother’s room and wants grandma to stay in the smaller rooms. Grandma doesn’t like what Mai cooks herself for lunch, but (again, in my opinion) grandma fails to see how Mai has been taking care of herself because of her mother’s condition.
It seems that these two familial strangers can only relate to one another through the tales grandma tells while shelling monkey nuts. Most of these tales are what happened to grandma as a child, but as Mai is listening, the stories come to life right in front of her eyes.
Will this family put aside their differences? What condition does Mai’s mother have? What kind of stories does grandma tell? You will have to read “Monkey Nut Tales” to find out.
The reader can plainly see how much thought and emotion went into these stories. Although I do not have the mental illness described in this book, I do have ADD. From my personal life experience, the way Jo describes every single tale is quite literally how books come alive in my mind. Books are my daily escape from reality, where you know in ‘x’ amount of pages everything will (or should) resolve itself, chivalry is not dead, women can be their own heroes, and magical beasts still exist. I would want to live in that kind of world (in my mind everyday). It’s taking the mundane and breathing life into a part of your brain that is asleep thanks to the every day routine.
Mental illness is not an easy subject to tackle- especially when you are writing from experience. Jo, I commend you for your bravery in putting this story out there. Thank you for sharing. If reader’s are unable to connect with this, then I feel as though they are ultimately missing the bigger picture.
Below is a film created by Jo Ho regarding “Monkey Nut Tales”. Please be sure to check it out. You can also head over here to view it as well as other works she’s completed.
Jo, I will continue to say this. It has been a pleasure working with you. Thank you for being down to earth, great conversations, and an engaging writer. There will forever be a spot on my bookshelves for you.