Thai-Riffic creatively combines humour with a real life story to engage the reader in a thrilling way. Albert (Lengy) Lengviriyakul hates being Thai. He hates the name of his parents' restaurant 'Thai-Riffic.' Despite his heritage, Lengy enjoys pizza and fast food more than his parent's meals. At school he's worried about making friends, hopes no-one comes up with a horrible nickname for him and finds his family a little bit embarrassing.
Set in Sydney, Lengy's first year of high school turns out easier than he expected. His teacher is weird and fun and Lengy makes a new friend who thinks Lengy's parents' restaurant is cool, as so does the rest of the school.
Oliver Phommavanh has done a great job of showing cultural backgrounds and different views on them. Despite Lengy understanding cultural diversity, he does not value it as he tries to fix his own problems.
The humour in Thai-Riffic is also really well done. Oliver Phommavanh has structured the humour so that it appeals to most age groups. The book was written for 9-14-year-olds; however, anyone would enjoy reading this book.
The characters depicted in the book come from many cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Lengy himself comes from Thailand, while his friend Rajiv is from India and his classmate Angelo is from Italy. Oliver Phommavanh deliberately did this to show that even though Lengy feels out of place in Australia with his Thai background, he notices little of the diversity of those around him. This adds to the character portrayal and personality development of Lengy.
Thai-Riffic is an easy read and I would recommend it to anyone who likes a good laugh and wants to develop their understanding of different cultural backgrounds.
Luke Waghorn is a 2019 Youth Ambassador.