Growing up, I was reluctantly proud of being half-filipino.
Even though I was also half-Indian, my mom was undoubtedly more successful than my dad at ensuring that my siblings and I were connected to her homeland and Filipino culture (sorry, dude ✌️). We used Filipino honorifics like “Ate” and “Kuya” in our household, regularly went to fiestas and novenas organized by family in the area, and visited the Philippines every two or three summers.
Two YA mysteries in a fight for their honor, but only one can come out alive…
I found myself in the mood for some ~ mystery ~ last week and settled on listening toSadie by Courtney Summersand A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson. Instead of reviewing them in two separate posts, I thought I’d just do it in one ✨. Both books were popular YA mysteries, and while their plots and formats had similarities, other elements like their subject matters weren’t as comparable 💃:
(But… if we were really talking agni kai… which book, if any, do you personally prefer 😅?)
First generation Korean American high school senior Frank Li hadnever had a girlfriend.
A total nerd, he spent his sweet, suburban Californian days studying for advanced placement tests, playing dungeons and dragons with his equally geeky friends, and helping his dad at their grocery store on the weekends. When a girl finally revealed that she liked him, Frank Li frankly couldn’t be any happier—except for one thing: his traditional Korean parents would never approve of his relationship with someone who wasn’t Korean.
Rather than be open with his parents and make them see reason, Frank pretended to date his fellow Korean American family friend, Joy Song, while he hid his European American girlfriend, and Joy hid her Chinese American boyfriend from her parents. What ensued was not a cliche contemporary about fake dating, but a complicated story of love, family, and identity.
There’s no denying that the media and American politicians have capitalized on identity politics and racism falsely paraded as patriotism in order to socially isolate citizens into separate sides that need choosing. People are quick to write others off as another “liberal”, “conservative”, “immigrant”, “Trump supporter”, or whatever necessary label they can sneer at while they keep close company with a group that feeds their intransigence and confirmation bias.
More than ever, fostering honest and civil discussions between the divvied up parties should be a priority of any concerned American, no matter how frustrating or futile they seem. A glance back at just the last 100 years of history reveals that putting up fences between our ideas of “us” and “them” is ignorant, childish, and extremely dangerous.
Ahmed wrote Internment as a warning of horrific history potentially repeating itself, this time with Muslims as the scapegoats.
Maddie loved her best friend Alexa, but she could not stand Alexa’s other best friend Theo. She thought he was an arrogant career man who only knew how to talk about himself, while Theo thought that Maddie was self-absorbed and materialistic. After a fluke hookup between the two rivals, they swore that it would never happen again and that, more importantly, Alexa could never know. However, when Alexa announced that she would be getting married and that her two best friends would both be in the wedding party, Maddie and Theo knew that whatever was changing between them would be hard to keep secret.
Goodreads Description: Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family’s blessing to pursue the career he’s always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend, Harry Wong, by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. Harry and Danny’s lives are deeply intertwined and as they approach the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that shook their friend group to its core, Danny can’t stop asking himself if Harry is truly in love with his girlfriend, Regina Chan.
When Danny digs deeper into his parents’ past, 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.
If someone ever asked me what it was like growing up as a first-generation Asian American in the San Francisco Bay Area, I would hand them this book.
At its surface, Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert was a story about high school senior, Danny Cheng, uncovering a family secret. But, peel it back, and the book had so many more layers.
It’s the season for short, fluffy romances you can indulge in while being b u r n t a l i v e by the sun. Ahh.
I haven’t read too many romances this summer, or this entire year for that matter. In fact, the two novels I’m about the review in this post are the only books I’ve read from the genre in the past few months. Maybe I’m growing old and bitter, or maybe it’s just the mood reader in me kicking in (may-haps both?).
I think what I like more than summer romances now though are books that are marketed as such, but actually place more emphasis on other plot-lines. That’s what these two stories have in common and why I enjoyed them. So, here are two fluffy, (sort-of) summer romance reviews:
Goodreads Description: Lois Clary, a software engineer at a San Francisco robotics company, codes all day and collapses at night. When her favourite sandwich shop closes up, the owners leave her with the starter for their mouthwatering sourdough bread.
Lois becomes the unlikely hero tasked to care for it, bake with it and keep this needy colony of microorganisms alive. Soon she is baking loaves daily and taking them to the farmer’s market, where an exclusive close-knit club runs the show.
When Lois discovers another, more secret market, aiming to fuse food and technology, a whole other world opens up. But who are these people, exactly?
How do I even begin to write a review for this book?
The most basic and superficial description of this novel is that it is a book about baking bread. Your initial reaction to this statement might be to dismiss this book, and I get it—who wants to read a story about bread? Nonetheless, Sourdough won the 2017 Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction, a point that prevented me from disregarding the novel and ultimately made me decide to give it a shot.
In celebration of March being Women’s History Month, I aimed to exclusively read female-authored books for the thirty-one days.
With the exception of one book, I made good on my goal and ended up having my best reading month this year. It’s really not much of a feat considering how busy I was in January and February and the complete disregard of my TBR pile that ensued. But, I’ll accept anything remotely close to win—it keeps me motivated 😅.
If you read my Women’s History Month Read-a-thon, you’ll know that the majority of the novels I read last month were young adult (YA) contemporaries. It wasn’t on purpose. ɪ ᴅɪᴅ ʀᴇᴀᴅ ᴀ ʙᴏᴏᴋ ʙʏ ᴏᴘʀᴀʜ. I think it just played out that way because I’m a giant mood reader, so I peruse the blogosphere when picking out my next reads. That results in me repeatedly reading YA since I mostly follow YA-oriented book blogs.
Don’t get me wrong though, there’s nothing wrong with YA. In fact, I made this conclusion after my read-a-thon:
There are so many brilliant women contributing their powerful thoughts for a more competent, diverse, and tolerant society—and there’s no place where it’s more apparent than YA bookshelves.
Goodreads Description: Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?
Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.
The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?
Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.
Indian American Protagonists.
If I had to summarize in two words why I picked this book up, it’d be just that: Indian American Protagonists.
Being half Indian myself, this book immediately sparked my attention when it blew up in the blogosphere last year and people were celebrating it for being a refreshing young adult novel. Because I grew up in such a diverse community with many unique Indian Americans, I was personally keen to see how they would be portrayed in the story. On top of that, I hoped that I could learn something new about the Indian side of my blood—particularly arranged marriages. Maybe it’s my fault for placing so much on the book, but I didn’t love When Dimple Met Rishi.