Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

How to Pronounce Quach, a guest post by Michelle Quach

Many years ago, while reading Sideways Stories from Wayside School, I stumbled upon this tidbit in Louis Sachar’s author bio:

When Louis Sachar was going to school, his teachers always pronounced his name wrong. Now that he has become a popular author of children’s books teachers all over the country are pronouncing his name wrong.”

That made me chuckle. I was nine, and teachers had been pronouncing my name wrong for years, too.

My last name is Quach, which, like Sachar, has that elusive hard “ch” sound that has thrown off many, many Americans. I don’t blame them—“Quash” or “Quatch” both seem like perfectly reasonable guesses for a name that looks like Quach. But I didn’t see why I should have a name that sounded like “squash” or “crotch” when I could instead be a much more solid Quach. One that rhymed with nouns of substance, like “lock” and ”rock.”

In spite of the trouble, however, I’ve always liked my name. In one word, it uniquely encapsulates my family’s complicated history—a history that I’ve often found hard to explain.

Quach is an Americanized version of the Vietnamese Quách, which itself is derived from the Chinese surname 郭 (often romanized as Kwok or Guo). It’s common among people like my family, ethnic Chinese who lived in Vietnam for several generations before they immigrated to the U.S. as refugees. We might still be living in Hanoi now if it hadn’t been for the aftermath of the Vietnam War.

So whenever I’ve been asked what I “am,” the answer has been complicated. Growing up, I wasn’t exactly sure how to identify. It wasn’t quite as clean-cut as if, say, my mom were Chinese and my dad were Vietnamese. In reality, both sides of my family are technically Chinese: my ancestors originated in southern China, and the one language that almost all of us still speak is Cantonese. But my grandparents and parents were born in Vietnam—to say that they’re not really Vietnamese is like saying I’m not really American. Vietnamese has been as much part of our household as English.

Still, when I talk to Chinese people, I don’t quite feel Chinese enough, and when I talk to Vietnamese people, I don’t feel quite Vietnamese enough. This is true even when I talk to Chinese- and Vietnamese-Americans, because their histories—where their families came from and how they made their way to the U.S.—are often so different from mine.

It wasn’t until I learned the concept of diaspora that I finally began to feel seen. For the first time, I had the vocabulary to describe my muddled identity, and I learned that my family was less “Chinese” than “overseas Chinese.” Specifically, they were already overseas Chinese before they came to America, and that—with their code-switching between languages, fusion of cultural cuisines, and history of migration and displacement—has always been a distinct and valid way of being Chinese. It also, I realized, happens to be a valid way of being Vietnamese—and a valid way of being American, too.

When I started writing Not Here to Be Liked, I knew I wanted Eliza, the main character, to share my experiences as a child of Asian immigrants, but I wasn’t sure how to approach her background. I wondered if patterning it on my own would require too much explanation, and I briefly considered making her Chinese-American in a way that most readers would already understand. Ultimately, though, I wanted the book to be true to the diversity in the Asian American experience, so I gave her an identity as multifaceted as my own.

I feel incredibly fortunate that I now have the opportunity to write about characters like me, with families like mine. I’m proud to contribute in some small way to the complexity of Asian representation, and I hope that Eliza’s story will resonate with readers like my younger self.

Maybe, if I’m lucky, teachers all over the country will be saying my name, too—the right way.

Meet the author

Photo credit: Lauritta Stellers

Michelle Quach is a Chinese-Vietnamese-American who also spent a lot of time working for student newspapers–including The Crimson at Harvard College, where she earned a BA in history and literature. Currently a graphic designer at a brand strategy firm in Los Angeles, Not Here to be Liked is her first novel.

Buy Michelle’s book at one of her favorite indie bookstores, The Ripped Bodice.

About Not Here to Be Liked

Emergency Contact meets Moxie in this cheeky and searing novel that unpacks just how complicated new love can get…when you fall for your enemy.

Eliza Quan is the perfect candidate for editor in chief of her school paper. That is, until ex-jock Len DiMartile decides on a whim to run against her. Suddenly her vast qualifications mean squat because inexperienced Len—who is tall, handsome, and male—just seems more like a leader.

When Eliza’s frustration spills out in a viral essay, she finds herself inspiring a feminist movement she never meant to start, caught between those who believe she’s a gender equality champion and others who think she’s simply crying misogyny.

Amid this growing tension, the school asks Eliza and Len to work side by side to demonstrate civility. But as they get to know one another, Eliza feels increasingly trapped by a horrifying realization—she just might be falling for the face of the patriarchy himself.

ISBN-13: 9780063038363
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/14/2021
Age Range: 13 – 17 Years

Three Novels, Three Responses to Anti-Asian Racism, a guest post by Misa Sugiura

My third book, Love & Other Natural Disasters, is being published this month. In my preparations for launch day, I’ve been thinking about my goals as a writer over the course of my career: what’s changed, and what’s stayed the same. I realized that I’ve unpacked a different version of what it means to be Asian American with each book, always with the goal of offering a new angle into the experience and of pushing back against racist or lazy stereotypes. As a former high school teacher, it has been my constant hope that each book will provide a welcome home for some readers, and an eye-opening education for others.

My first book, It’s Not Like It’s a Secret, stuck closely to my personal experience as a child of Japanese immigrants in the Midwest, and as a high school teacher in ethnically diverse Silicon Valley. In it, Sana Kiyohara moves from Wisconsin to California and befriends a group of Asian American girls, which helps her move from ambivalence to celebration of her Asian-ness. At the same time, she falls in love with a Latinx girl and comes to terms with her sexuality. I wanted my book to show Asian kids in ways hadn’t yet been deeply explored in YA: kids who were consciously and unambiguously proud of being Asian American; a teenage Asian lesbian; Asian kids who might be high achievers but who weren’t necessarily nerdy brainiacs who stayed home every night; and anti-Asian racism (and homophobia) as a collection of micro-aggressions that might not seem harmful to others. Kids had conversations about race on the page, and made all kinds of mistakes; my hope was that this would provide readers with a way to talk about race and racism in their own lives.

In my second book, This Time Will Be Different, I chose to dig past the micro-aggressions and directly confront racism (particularly anti-Asian and anti-Japanese racism) on a broader scale: its history and how past injustices like the Japanese American incarceration during World War II can echo through the years in ways that still affect us today. In This Time Will Be Different, CJ Katsuyama goes to a school named after the racist family who used the chaos of the internment decades ago to cheat her family out of nearly everything they owned. To contextualize CJ’s story, I included chapters that stepped outside of the main narrative to educate readers on the history of anti-Asian racism in the United States, and the history of the model minority myth. Because I wanted to push back harder on the stereotype of Asian Americans as the Model Minority, I made CJ an academic underachiever who gets high, has sex, and doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life—because those Asians exist, too! And as before, I had characters openly discuss race and racism on the page so that readers would learn how to talk about it themselves.

Four years after It’s Not Like It’s A Secret was published, we still live in a world where, as a character in that novel joked, “Asians aren’t lesbians!” This is one reason why I decided to add another story to that very small (but growing!) group of books featuring queer Asian girl protagonists. In my third novel, Love & Other Natural Disasters, instead of examining and analyzing Asian and queer identity as I have in the past, I celebrate and normalize it by putting queer Asian girls at the center of a story that leans heavily into popular romantic comedy tropes (Fake dating! Enemies to lovers! Rowboats, bicycle rides, and ice cream parlors!); I’ve focused thematically on personal and family issues, rather than social issues like race and sexuality. And while I’ve steeped the overall plot in broadly popular conventions, I’ve tried to keep the details specifically Asian, so that Asian kids can continue to have the joy of recognizing themselves or their family members in a book.

But wait! There’s more! I’ve written three stories that show three different ways to be Asian American—three different attempts to push back against anti-Asian racism. But Asia is a massive continent, made up of 48 sovereign nations and roughly 2300 distinct, living languages. And there are many Asian authors with an enormous variety of stories to tell. Authors like Randy Ribay and Riley Redgate (Filipino), Lori Lee (Hmong), Thanha Lai (Vietnamese) C.B. Lee and Julie Dao, (Chinese/Vietnamese), Sara Farizan and Abdi Nazemian (Iranian), Sabina Khan (Bangladeshi), Tanaz Bhathena (Indian), and more offer valuable perspectives on what it means to be Asian in ways that extend far beyond my stories. By introducing our kids to this rich diversity of characters and stories, you join the fight against the reductive and destructive forces of racism. I hope that you will consider including all kinds of Asian stories in your collections, regardless of whom you serve, so that your readers—both Asian and non-Asian—will get to see that there are as many ways to be Asian American as there are Asians in America.

Meet the author

Photo credit: Pamela Garfield

Misa Sugiura’s ancestors include a poet, a priestess, a samurai, and a stowaway. Her debut novel, It’s Not Like It’s A Secret, won the APALA Award for YA Literature, and her critically acclaimed second novel, This Time Will Be Different, made the “Best of 2019” lists of the New York Public Library, the Chicago Public Library, Kirkus, and YALSA. Her latest book, Love & Other Natural Disasters, and has been praised in SLJ as “an adorable rom-com” and “a fun romance that engages with deeper issues.” Booklist describes it as “hilariously awkward” and “honestly poignant,” while Kirkus calls it “a laugh-out-loud, tender, and wholly satisfying read.” Misa lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two sons, and three cats.

Links:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/misallaneous1/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/misallaneous1

Website: http://www.misasugiura.com/

About Love & Other Natural Disasters

This delightfully disastrous queer YA rom-com is a perfect read for fans of Jenny Han, Morgan Matson, and Sandhya Menon.

When Nozomi Nagai pictured the ideal summer romance, a fake one wasn’t what she had in mind.

That was before she met the perfect girl. Willow is gorgeous, glamorous, and…heartbroken? And when she enlists Nozomi to pose as her new girlfriend to make her ex jealous, Nozomi is a willing volunteer.

Because Nozomi has a master plan of her own: one to show Willow she’s better than a stand-in, and turn their fauxmance into something real. But as the lies pile up, it’s not long before Nozomi’s schemes take a turn toward disaster…and maybe a chance at love she didn’t plan for.

ISBN-13: 9780062991232
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/08/2021
Age Range: 13 – 17 Years

Resources for Discussing the Rise in Asian American Violence in the United States

I hope you are all aware that there has been an increase in violence and hate crimes against the Asian American community here in the United States. Two days ago, a horrific and deadly spree happened in the state of Georgia. I have rounded up a short list of articles and resources for school and public librarians to help us learn more and find ways to address the issues in our buildings and with our tweens and teens. I know one of my go to responses is to use the tools I have at hand, which means promoting books by Asian American authors and illustrators, which I hope you are doing all the time. While I don’t believe that books can change the world, I do believe that they can change hearts and one heart at a time we can provide tools to help make the world better. It’s not a lot, but it’s a tool we have and doing something is better than doing nothing.

Standing Against Anti-Asian Violence: https://blog.workday.com/en-us/2021/how-we-can-all-take-stand-against-anti-asian-violence.html

Articles and Resources: General

Anti-Asian American Violence Resources: https://anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co/

PBS News Hour: How to Address the Surge in Asian American Hate Crimes: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/watch-live-how-to-address-the-surge-of-anti-asian-hate-crimes

CNN: How Parents Can Help Their Children: https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/18/health/parents-support-kids-asian-hate-crime-wellness/index.html

Students Talk ABout Their Experiences: https://www.dailygamecock.com/article/2021/03/students-experiences-with-anti-asian-asian-american-discrimination-and-violence-news-bozard

Teen Vogue: Understanding the History of Anti-Asian Racism in the United States: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/anti-asian-hate-crimes-violence-us-history

NPR: Anti-Asian Violence Rises in the Pandemic: https://www.npr.org/2021/03/17/978055571/anti-asian-attacks-rise-during-pandemic-read-nprs-stories-on-the-surge-in-violen

Countering Stereotypes of Asian Americans: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/12/countering-stereotypes

Publishing/Book Resources

Kibooka: Kids Books by Korean Americans: https://kibooka.com/

Lee & Low: Asian, Asian American Children’s Books: https://www.leeandlow.com/cultures/asian-asian-american-interest

Is this one of the most beautifully illustrated picture books you will ever see? Yes. Yes it is.

Picture Books Written by Asian American authors and illustrators: https://www.pragmaticmom.com/booklists/asian-american-book-lists-kids/

Middle Grade Books Written by Asian American authors: https://readingmiddlegrade.com/asian-middle-grade-books/

YA/Teen Fiction Books Written by Asian American authors: https://www.epicreads.com/blog/books-for-asian-pacific-american-heritage-month/

More YA/Teen Fiction Books Written by Asian American Authors: https://readingmiddlegrade.com/asian-ya-novels/

Please know that if during this pandemic you ever referred to Covid-19 as the China Flu or the Kung Flu, you have directly contributed to the rise in hate and violence for our Asian American students.

If you are on social media you can follow the tag #StopAsianHate for more discussion, resources and places to donate.

Four Little Words – Changing the Narrative, a guest post by Abigail Hing Wen

As a student rising through elementary and middle school in Ohio, I’d always wanted to join one of the amazing productions put on every year by the high school theater group. A part of me worried that my Asian Americanness would get in the way. After all, there were no Asian Americans in Oklahoma! or Guys and Dolls. Would casting me detract from authenticity? Could the directors overlook my Asian Americanness so that in spite of my face, I could join the chorus?

Abigail in dance squad.

My freshman year, I auditioned for the fall play. When the cast list posted, I wasn’t on it. But freshman were rarely cast for any roles but the chorus, and with the winter came a special class of one-act plays, directed by seniors. They were smaller and less prestigious; an opportunity for freshman, though still difficult to land.

During auditions, the seniors sat in the front row of the auditorium while we hopefuls huddled on the floor before them. They challenged us: how far would you go? would you run naked across the stage?

I can’t remember my answer, but I remember the attitude that dominated that room: whatever they threw at us—a crazy dance routine, a passionate stage kiss—we were game.

I auditioned along with dozens of other hopefuls.

When the cast list posted, I pressed forward with the mob, anxiously scanned the list, read deeper and deeper—and there I was!

In a one-act play called “Four Little Words,” I had been cast as the Sixth Actress of seven actresses.

When I arrived for rehearsal, I could scarcely contain my excitement. Two senior guys were directing. There were about a dozen of us actors—I had joined an exclusive little club.

Eagerly, I flipped through the thin blue booklet we were given, searching for my role. It was a story of a director trying to cast for the role of a maid who only had four words in the whole play: “Your taxicab is waiting.”

He proceeded to audition one egotistical actress after another. Each prima donna embellished on the four little words, refusing to stay in character, while he grew more and more despairing, exhausted by these women who wouldn’t shut up.

Meanwhile, the sixth actress—me—sat at the end of the line without speaking. The seventh actress burst onto the scene, large than life.

And then when the director was about to tear out his hair, my character finally spoke.

“Vosh naya. Skoogoo. Urr-urr. Saltzey. Kcki-icki skaya. Woozey.”[1]

The office boy turned to the director and said, “Gee, boss! She can’t talk English!”

The poor exhausted director came to life.

“She’s hired!” he cried. “I never want to hear English again!”

I was suddenly, intensely aware I was the only minority in that auditorium. The words weren’t even a real foreign language. They were a made up language, the kind of talk random people occasionally babbled at me when they passed me on the street.

I had been cast not despite my Asian Americanness, not even for it, but because of the perception of it.

Abigail in show choir.

In the weeks that followed, I never breathed a word about the play’s contents to my parents or my friends. I told my parents they didn’t need to attend, though, since I missed the bus for practices, my mom dutifully picked me up late after school every day.

We actresses sat in a row each rehearsal. I sat in silence, my head bowed, as my role called for, until the cue for my four little words. Each time I spoke those lines, I died a little with the shame of it. But I’d been cast. I got a role when so many others didn’t. I’d agreed with all the other hopefuls that I was game for anything. How could I rock the boat now and appear ungrateful?

“Is that Chinese?” the fifth actress asked me one afternoon.

I was born in the United States. English was the only language I spoke at home. I had studied French for two years and that was my second language. When people complemented me on my excellent English skills, it had been a point of soreness, but also irrational pride.

I don’t remember what I answered. But I remember the feeling.

I started leaving rehearsals early. One time, I skipped, making some excuse. The next day, after I recited my lines, the fifth actress said to me, “You know, Bob (not his real name, but the one-act’s real-life director) played your role yesterday and he was hilarious. Why don’t you ham it up more?”

Until I wrote this piece and my critique partner pointed it out, I didn’t recognize that the hamming up of the role was probably a racist caricature, as much as the role itself was. Instead, I felt like a failure. Of course Bob was hilarious. And I couldn’t be. For so many reasons I couldn’t in that role.

A good friend, one of three other Chinese Americans in the grades above me, came to the one-acts. I didn’t know he was in the audience until he came up afterwards and congratulated me with a huge grin.

Not until three years later, when he and I were both students at Harvard, that I confessed how ashamed I’d felt to play it.

“I was actually really mad when I saw the show,” he admitted.

Why had we never talked about it? Why didn’t I have more self-confidence to refuse the role? I doubt it even went on my college application. It was something I endured and buried away. I simply didn’t know better. Those student directors and the supervising theater directors and faculty may not have realized what they were doing, although I think they did in hindsight—I walked in on an argument in which the director was trying to convince the play’s leading man to take his bow with me on his arms and he was refusing. Not wanting to be the cause of a fuss, I quickly offered to take my bow with the other actresses.

As I’ve explored film options for Loveboat, Taipei, I’ve had the opportunity to meet Asian American producers who have struggled to get their work made in the United States or to gain traction in Hollywood. They have been told there are not enough qualified Asian American actors.

“That’s because they don’t have a chance to practice,” one discouraged director told me. “They’re not cast as leads in high school plays or musicals.” And in an already fiercely competitive market, with so few roles for Asian Americans, what actor could go into it with any real hope?

But I am also told there is incredible talent out there. I’m running into it. My hope for a Loveboat, Taipei film someday is that its cast of over 30 Asian American characters will open up opportunities for this talent to come forward and shine on the screen. I want to see new stars discovered, and to see them move into other lead roles in Hollywood in which race doesn’t matter.

With Crazy Rich Asians, Always Be My Maybe, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, The Farewell and Ghost Bride, we are starting to see changes. We still have a ways to go, but I am honored and grateful to be playing a part in this new world.

Meet Abigail Hing Wen

Photo credit: Olga Pichkova

Abigail Hing Wen holds a BA from Harvard and a JD from Columbia. She also earned her Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Like Ever, she is obsessed with musicals. When she’s not writing stories or listening to her favorite score, she is busy working in venture capital and artificial intelligence in Silicon Valley, where she lives with her husband and two sons. Loveboat, Taipei is her first novel. Visit AbigailHingWen.com.

About Loveboat, Taipei

Perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen, and praised as “an intense rush of rebellion and romance” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Garber, this romantic and layered Own Voices debut from Abigail Hing Wen is a dazzling, fun-filled romp.

“Our cousins have done this program,” Sophie whispers. “Best kept secret. Zerosupervision.

And just like that, Ever Wong’s summer takes an unexpected turnGone is Chien Tan, the strict educational program in Taiwan that Ever was expecting. In its place, she finds Loveboat: a summer-long free-for-all where hookups abound, adults turn a blind eye, snake-blood sake flows abundantly, and the nightlife runs nonstop.

But not every student is quite what they seem:

Ever is working toward becoming a doctor but nurses a secret passion for dance.

Rick Woo is the Yale-bound child prodigy bane of Ever’s existence whose perfection hides a secret.

Boy-crazy, fashion-obsessed Sophie Ha turns out to have more to her than meets the eye.

And under sexy Xavier Yeh’s shell is buried a shameful truth he’ll never admit.

When these students’ lives collide, it’s guaranteed to be a summer Ever will never forget.

ISBN-13: 9780062957276
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/07/2020


Asian American Voices in Young Adult Literature, a #YAAtoZ guest post by Kristyn Dorfman

Today for YA A to Z we are delighted to present with you a discussion of Asian American Voices in YA Literature by library Kristyn Dorfman.

yaatoz

The need for diverse narratives has always been important but that has not always been apparent in the books we see published. Now, finally, diverse stories have been gaining more traction, though ever so slowly. Growing up, I often found it difficult to find books about people that looked like me or whose lives felt similar to my own. I have always been an avid reader and though this did not deter my voraciousness, I am sure there are many that are clamoring for stories about their own experiences and feel like reading is not for them because they cannot find themselves. It is also a disservice to others to not allow them the opportunity to see and experience lives different than their own. I believe that understanding another’s viewpoints, experiences, and perspectives allows us to be more empathetic individuals.

To that end, I am very excited to share a variety of new(ish) and exciting books with Asian American Protagonists (mostly) written by Asian Americans. This list includes a wide variety of Asian experiences and if there are any titles I have missed, especially those with male protagonists, that you feel should definitely be included, please feel free to comment below!  Enjoy!

(Reviews from Follett or Publisher via Titlewave.com)

Ahmadi, Arvin. Down and Across. Viking Books for Young Readers, 2018.

Scott Ferdowsi has a track record of quitting. Writing the Great American Novel? Three chapters. His summer internship? One week. His best friends know exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives, but Scott can hardly commit to a breakfast cereal, let alone a passion.

With college applications looming, Scott’s parents pressure him to get serious and settle on a career path like engineering or medicine. Desperate for help, he sneaks off to Washington, DC, to seek guidance from a famous professor who specializes in grit, the psychology of success.

He never expects an adventure to unfold out of what was supposed to be a one-day visit. But that’s what Scott gets when he meets Fiora Buchanan, a ballsy college student whose life ambition is to write crossword puzzles. When the bicycle she lends him gets Scott into a high-speed chase, he knows he’s in for the ride of his life. Soon, Scott finds himself sneaking into bars, attempting to pick up girls at the National Zoo, and even giving the crossword thing a try-all while opening his eyes to fundamental truths about who he is and who he wants to be.

love hate

Ahmed, Samira. Love, Hate and Other Filters. Soho Teen, 2018.

17-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: a good school, an arranged marriage. And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school, living in New York City, pursuing the boy she’s liked for ages. But unbeknownst to Maya, there is a danger looming beyond her control. When a terrorist attack occurs in another Midwestern city, the prime suspect happens to share her last name. In an instant, Maya’s community, consumed by fear and hatred, becomes unrecognizable, and her life changes forever.

Ali - Saints and Misfits

Ali, S.K. Saints & Misfits. Salaam Reads, 2017.

Fifteen-year-old Janna Yusuf, a Flannery O’Connor-obsessed book nerd and the daughter of the only divorced mother at their mosque, tries to make sense of the events that follow when her best friend’s cousin–a holy star in the Muslim community–attempts to assault her at the end of sophomore year.

Ali also has an article in the December 2017 issue of VOYA entitled, “Muslim Representation: The Case for Expecting Diversity within Diversity.

starfish

Bowman, Akemi Dawn. Starfish. Simon Pulse, 2017.

Kiko Himura yearns to escape the toxic relationship with her mother by getting into her dream art school, but when things do not work out as she hoped Kiko jumps at the opportunity to tour art schools with her childhood friend, learning life-changing truths about herself and her past along the way.

american panda

Chao, Gloria. American Panda. Simon Pulse, 2018.

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

Chee, Traci. The Reader. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2016.

(Sequel: The Speaker, 2017)

Set in a world where reading is unheard-of, Sefia makes use of a mysterious object to track down who kidnapped her aunt Nin and what really happened the night her father was murdered.

Chen, Justina. Lovely, Dark, and Deep. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2018.

When Viola Li returns from a trip, she develops a sudden and extreme case of photosensitivity — an inexplicable allergy to sunlight. Thanks to her crisis-manager parents, she doesn’t just have to wear layers of clothes and spaceship-sized hat. She has to avoid all hint of light. Say goodbye to windows and running outdoors. Even her phone becomes a threat.

Viola is determined to maintain a normal life, particularly after she meets Josh. He’s a funny, talented Thor look-alike with his own mysterious grief. But their romance makes her take more risks, and when a rebellion against her parents backfires dangerously, she must find her way to a life — and love — as deep and lovely as her dreams.

Dao, Julie C. Forest of a Thousand Lanterns. Philomel Books, 2017.

Beautiful eighteen-year-old Xifeng, raised by a cruel aunt who says the stars destine her to be Empress of Feng Lu, chooses to spurn the man who loves her and exploit the dark magic that can make her dream real.

De La Cruz, Melissa. Something in Between. Harlequin Teen, 2016.

After learning of her family’s illegal immigrant status, Jasmine realizes that college may be impossible and that deportation is a real threat, uncertainties she endures as she falls for the son of a congressman who opposes an immigration reform bill.

Gilbert, Kelly Loy. Picture Us in the Light. Disney-Hyperion, 2018.

Danny Cheng has always known his parents have secrets. But when he discovers a taped-up box in his father’s closet filled with old letters and a file on a powerful Silicon Valley family, he realises there’s much more to his family’s past than he ever imagined. As Danny digs deeper, he uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history and the carefully constructed facade his parents have maintained begins to crumble. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him.

Goo, Maurene. I Believe in a Thing Called Love. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2017.

A disaster in romance, high school senior Desi Lee decides to tackle her flirting failures by watching Korean television dramas, where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten.

Goo, Maurene. The Way You Make Me Feel. Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2018.

Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind?

Heilig, Heidi. The Girl from Everywhere. Greenwillow Books, 2016.

(Sequel: The Ship Beyond Time, 2017)

Sixteen-year-old Nix has sailed across the globe and through centuries aboard her time-traveling father’s ship. But when he gambles with her very existence, it all may come to an end.

Liu, Liana. Shadow Girl. HarperTeen, 2017.

A young girl, hoping to escape her family drama, begins tutoring a rich man’s daughter, but when she develops feelings for herstudent’s brother, along with strange noises in the house, she can’t shake the fear that there is danger lurking amidst this beautiful mansion.

line in the

Lo, Malinda. A Line in the Dark. Dutton Books, 2017

When Chinese American teenager Jess Wong’s best friend Angie falls in love with a girl from the nearby boarding school, Jess expects heartbreak. But when everybody’s secrets start to be revealed, the stakes quickly elevate from love or loneliness to life or death.

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Menon, Sandhya. When Dimple Met Rishi. Simon Pulse, 2017.

When Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel meet at a Stanford University summer program, Dimple is avoiding her parents’ obsession with “marriage prospects” but Rishi hopes to woo her into accepting arranged marriage with him.

Oh, Axie. Rebel Seoul. Tu Books, 2017.

In Neo Seoul in the year 2199, pilot Lee Jaewon is tasked with spying on supersoldier Tera. Lee begins to have feelings for her and finds his loyalty to the government faltering.

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Patel, Sonia. Rani Patel in Full Effect. Cinco Puntos Press, 2016.

Rani Patel, almost seventeen and living on remote Moloka’i island, is oppressed by the cultural norms of her Gujarati immigrant parents but when Mark, an older man, draws her into new experiences red flags abound.

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Pon, Cindy. Want. Simon Pulse, 2017

Jason Zhou is trying to survive in Taipei, a city plagued by pollution and viruses, but when he discovers the elite are using their wealth to evade the deadly effects, he knows he must do whatever is necessary to fight the corruption and save his city.

Pung, Alice. Lucy and Linh. Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.

In Australia, Lucy tries to balance her life at home surrounded by her Chinese immigrant family, with her life at a pretentious private school.

Redgate, Riley. Noteworthy. Amulet Books, 2017.

Feeling undervalued because of musical talents that place her outside the spotlight, Jordan disguises herself as a boy to gain entry into a competitive, all-male a cappella group that is looking for a singer with her vocal range.

Sugiura, Misa. It’s Not Like It’s a Secret. HarperTeen, 2017.

Sixteen-year-old Sana has too many secrets, but when she and her family move to California, she begins to wonder if it’s time she finally be honest with her family.

Wong, Corrie. The Takedown. Freeform Books, 2017

In this near-future mystery, Kyla Cheng, the smartest, hottest, most popular student at her Brooklyn high school, gets taken down a peg by a faked sex tape that goes viral.

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Yee, F.C. The Epic Crush of Genie Lo. Amulet Books, 2017.

The struggle to get into a top-tier college consumes sixteen-year-old Genie’s every waking thought. But when she discovers she’s a celestial spirit who’s powerful enough to bash through the gates of heaven with her fists, her perfectionist existence is shattered. Enter Quentin, a mysterious transfer student from China who becomes Genie’s self-appointed guide to battling demons. Genie has no idea that Quentin, in another reality, is Sun Wukong, the mythological Monkey King incarnate, right down to the furry tail and penchant for peaches. Suddenly, acing the SATs is the least of Genie’s worries. The fates of her friends, family, and the entire Bay Area all depend on her summoning an inner power that Quentin assures her is strong enough to level the very gates of Heaven. But every second Genie spends tapping into the secret of her true nature is a second in which the lives of her loved ones hang in the balance.

Meet Kristyn Dorfman

dorfman

Kristyn is a Middle and Upper School Librarian (grades 5-12) at Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn, NY. She also reviews for School Library Journal. Kristyn is a native Brooklynite and the mother of two amazing little people. You can often find her behind a book, behind a cup of coffee, or singing broadway musicals off key at inappropriate times.