The heroine’s journey

Growing up is painful, physically and mentally. Being a girl adds to that pain exponentially. The world hurts girls in so many ways by taking advantage of their bodies and setting up unattainable gender expectations. The world sets so many rules about how girls should look and behave. (If you are a minority, there are rules within rules, spoken and unspoken, that you have to navigate.) You can either follow them and be in a lot of internal pain, or break them and have other people give you grief.

The pain doesn’t just come from men. It comes from women, from peers, from those younger and older than you, and from family and friends. Anyone can give you grief. That’s what happened in these books. I really admire girls and women because they come out of this broken but still together.

The classic story is the hero’s journey. A worthy character is one that makes the reader want to follow them until the end. I followed these heroine’s journeys to not the end, but to the beginnings when they reclaim their lives. I hope you will too.

Dear Twin by Addie Tsai

I met Addie at a reading at LibroMobile in November 2019, and before that at Kweli in April 2019. Addie is a queer Asian American author, and Dear Twin is her debut novel. She drew on her experience as a twin. During her talk at LibroMobile, Addie mentioned that there are few books about twins, and the ones that exist usually objectify twins. The fetishism obviously happens in real life too.

I don’t think I have ever read a book written from a twin’s perspective, and written by a twin. So this is an #OwnVoices novel! The relationship between twins, especially girl twins, can be so complicated. It’s at once having someone who knows you better than anyone else (and you are linked to them for life), but it’s also someone who maybe makes you feel a little less whole.

Stand Up, Yumi Chung by Jessica Kim

I met Jessica at Kweli 2019 also, and Stand Up, Yumi Chung is her debut with Kokila, an imprint that I’m a fan of. I really enjoyed this book because I relate to feeling different and wanting to do something different, even if it is totally left field like comedy. I also felt it when Yumi felt like her world was falling apart. Mostly, I just loved how Yumi reminds me of the middle schoolers I worked with!

Loveboat, Tapei by Abigail Hing Wen

I need to read and review this, especially because a sequel is coming out!

Parachutes by Kelly Yang

This book spoke to me as an Asian American growing up in Southern California. So many of the incidents here are realistic. Competitive high schools, ELD classes, the rift between 1st generation and ABC (American Born Chinese) kids — I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s such a validating feeling to see the hyper-specific experiences your grew up with in print and in a book.

There are scenes that will make you angry. Although Claire is the protagonist, there are certain moments where I didn’t feel that sympathetic to her because even though she faces microaggressions, she is still incredibly privileged compared to someone like Dani and Ming. So you can imagine what girls who don’t have the looks or financial safety net have to deal with: all the harassment and none of the support to back them up. The only thing that disadvantaged women really have are each other, and their friends.

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

I won this book from a Goodreads giveaway (my first and only ever!) I donated it and I know it found a home. From the first few chapters I read, it seemed like The Handmaid’s Tale for teens.

I am slowly updating all these drafts and completing books from last year!

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