Pia’s 10 Picks for #AsianLitBingo

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Have you heard of #AsianLitBingo yet?

Created by Shenwei at READING (AS)(I)AN (AM)ERICA and co-hosted by some awesome Asian/diasporic bloggers around the world, #AsianLitBingo highlights Asian stories written by Asian/diasporic authors. See how you can participate and read the official rules here!

I will not be participating in this reading challenge, unfortunately, because I have to devote my focus on an upcoming concern… college graduation! (*gasp!*)

While much of my reading this month will consist of material for research papers, that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case for you. So in the spirit of vicariously reading for fun through other people, here are some amazing books that I recommend for your #AsianLitBingo adventures, with the bingo categories it could qualify for:

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Book Review: Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel

After a demanding semester during which many life decisions were made over many cups of coffee, it’s great to be back on the blog 🙂 If you read my previous post Why I’ve Been Blog-Quiet, you’ll know that this book’s review was set for the presses in February (!). Then, the first of many rattling executive orders from the 45th president was announced. The Muslim Ban, targeting Iranian immigrants among others, was scarily relevant to this book’s protagonist. The event rattled me into a long state of pondering and critical evaluation.

Thanks to encouragement from friends, on and outside the blog world, I’ve decided to finally publish the review. As the work from the semester subsides, I am excited to re-start blogging.

With much love, I share with you a wonderful book:

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Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Things my teenage cousin likes:

  • reading (her favorite book is The Catcher in the Rye)
  • flitting from crush to crush, with 100% sincerity every time
  • scarily accurate sarcasm

So it would seem natural that I get this intelligent, kind young woman To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han for her Sweet 16. Like my cousin, protagonist Lara Jean is hapa (that is, half-Asian and half-white). Lara Jean is levelheaded and a bit of a hopeless romantic: She’s written a love letter for every boy she’s ever loved since middle school and keeps them hidden in a hatbox under her bed.

Lara Jean narrates:

They’re not love letters in the strictest sense of the word. My letters are for when I don’t want to be in love anymore. They’re for good-bye.

…at least, they’re supposed to be for good-bye. Then one morning, the unthinkable happens: At the beginning of Lara Jean’s junior year of high school, all of the letters are mysteriously sent. And Lara Jean scrambles to deal with the consequences… which actually turn out to be about a lot more than just boys and love.

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Led by an earnest, astute biracial female protagonist, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is sweet without being saccharine. It’s a story that delights beyond the run-of-the-mill rom-com – moreover, it’s a perfect encapsulation of what I think “diverse YA lit” can aspire to.

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Book Review: The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

“Today is my last chance to try to convince someone – or fate – to help me find a way to stay in America.
To be clear: I don’t believe in fate. But I’m desperate.” 

High school senior Natasha has just twelve hours to find a way to keep her family from being deported to Jamaica. Daniel knows his Korean immigrant parents expect a lot of him; suit-clad, he’s on his way to a college admissions interview, on a train speeding him toward what he calls “adulthood (misery, predictability, absolutely no fun will be had by anyone)”. She’s a cool science nerd, and he’s a poet.

One chance encounter in New York City. One day. This isn’t your ordinary girl-meets-boy.

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Intrepid readers, I am so excited to share this book with you all. It’s a book that deserves all of the hype that’s surrounded it since its release in November. Fate and physics converge in this intricately unfolding explosion of stories that highlight the intensity and interconnectedness of human lives.

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Book review: Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

Pull up a chai and get ready for Intrepid’s first book review for Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed!

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Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed (2015)

First things first: The cover is a gem. A teenage girl with long, dark hair looks wistfully up at a crescent moon. She’s bordered by a stunning, jewel-toned blue and purple pointed arch.

“They will accept us one day,” I insist… “One day, we’ll show them there’s another way to look at all of this. I wasn’t exactly planning to fall for you. I just did. It’s going to happen to them too.”

By the end of senior year, 17-year-old narrator Naila has finally convinced her parents to let her go to college and become a doctor. Her parents, conservative Pakistani immigrants, have let their daughter make more or less her own choices, except for one: Years ago, they told Naila that while she could choose her clothes and her career, they would decide on her husband.

The one knot in the plan is that Naila has already fallen in love with Saif, the dreamy boy on the soccer team, and they have been secretly dating for a year.

When the secret gets out (in a spectacularly nasty blowup), Naila’s parents book a last-minute summer vacation to Pakistan. As the summer passes, Naila becomes slowly aware that her parents have an arranged marriage in mind – and that they don’t plan on her leaving Pakistan anytime soon.

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6 Things I’m Thinking About

The 6 things that intrigued me from this past week. Read on for diversity in literature news and how schools can support immigrant/first-gen children!

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  1. October is Filipino American History Month! Celebrate with these books by Filipino authors. Look out for Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz on this blog soon.
  2. Diverse books meets Netflix:  Publishers Weekly reports the We Need Diverse Books organization will soon be launching OurStory, an app that curates #ownvoices stories written from traditionally marginalized perspectives. One of my favorite picture books, Juna’s Jar, is in the database!
  3. If you’re looking for new ways to visualize “mirrors” and the need for diversity in children’s books, ReadingSpark has a thought-provoking  infographic. The illustrations underscore the fact that kids do take notice. So let’s do better!

  4. A Nashville middle school that specializes in nurturing the needs of recent immigrant students is the topic of this story from Chalkbeat. How do they do it? “Creative teaching,” article explains, so that teachers “aren’t just relying on English to help students master grade-level material.” But isn’t it so that creative, adaptive teaching methods benefit all students?
  5. I encourage readers from California to consider Proposition 58, which would give schools more freedom to expand bilingual programs for some of the most linguistically diverse kids in the country. So proud of my multilingual home state.
  6. The latest episode of the This American Life podcast follows a Somali refugee who wins a lottery that could make his dreams of living in the United States come true. Gripping, honest, and told with journalistic integrity above all, “Abdi and the Golden Ticket” invites reflection on the privilege of citizenship, and what it takes to become a naturalized citizen.
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A corgi walks onto campus and suddenly life is filled with new meaning. Have a happy Indigenous Peoples Day weekend!