There are only five months left in 2019 and we’ve passed the halfway point! I hope y’all are on track with your reading challenge! We have a lot of exciting things going on for YARC that we can’t wait to share with y’all soon . . .
If you haven’t heard about it, #YARC2019, or the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge, is a year-long reading challenge dedicated to reading more books by Asian authors! You can find out more about the challenge and sign up here, if you haven’t already!
We are so overjoyed to see all your progress in YARC and the amazing books by Asian authors you’ve been reading. It’s been truly outstanding to see so much support for these books and how the community has come together.
Keep an eye out for the link-up on shutupshealea.com, but for now, let’s talk about August’s challenge theme! Each month we post a challenge theme and three recommended YARC books in case you want a harder challenge, and this month’s theme is . . .
This month, our theme is tradition, something that’s important to a lot of Asian families. We challenge you to read books by Asian authors that explore tradition in its many forms–whether it’s breaking tradition or following or establishing new ones.
The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee
Not only does The Downstairs Girl break “tradition” as Stacey Lee continues to publish amazing Asian literature in multiple historical time periods, something rarely done in YA fiction, but Jo Kuan also breaks tradition by writing anonymously in a column about race and gender in historical Atlanta.
I love Stacey Lee’s books and would wholeheartedly recommend–which is why I’m so excited to begin The Downstairs Girl!
Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li
Number One Chinese Restaurant is a perfect story for the prompt tradition. The owner of the restaurant, Jimmy Han, aspires to create a new high-end fusion restaurant in place of his father’s popular Beijing Duck House, disrupting the decades old regulars & his father’s tradition. Johnny is concerned with the family name, and tensions arise in multiple people’s lives, with the Beijing Duck House at the center.
I’m so excited to pick this up and it really sounds like such a perfect story examining family, loyalty, and culture!
Symptoms of a Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra
Saira in Symptoms of a Heartbreak is already breaking tradition as she becomes the youngest doctor in America–a sixteen-year-old medical prodigy. She’s breaking the tradition of following in her mother’s specific medical interests, and definitely breaking tradition with her crush on one of the hospital’s patients . . .
Romantic comedies, delicious food, and lots of family, Symptoms of a Heartbreak is–contrary to the title’s suggestion–a fun and sweet romance you don’t want to miss!
My Suggestions for This Month’s YARC Prompt . . .
Besides our YARC-chosen recommended reads, here are five books you should also check out for this prompt, courtesy of me!
Natalie Tan’s Book of Love and Fortune by Roselle Lim
This book is so perfect for this prompt, and I love how heavily Natalie Tan’s Book of Love and Fortune examines tradition. It’s a really strong read for diaspora readers, and Natalie Tan in the story confronts tradition head on as she deals with grief about her mother’s passing, and how she intends to reopen her grandmother’s restaurant.
It’s one of my favorite adult reads and I strongly recommend because it’s such a good fit and an amazing book. (Also, SO MUCH FOOD.)
The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi
This isn’t just any ordinary board game–this is a mechanical steampunk board game that three friends find themselves stuck in, needing to dismantle before it traps more children (think Jumanji!) With Middle Eastern flair, this story takes a traditional board game and brings it to an entirely new level!
The Gauntlet is one of those middle grade novels that’s really high on my TBR, and the sequel actually happens to be coming out this month! So it’s the perfect time to pick up this duology!
Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert
This has quickly become one of my favorite books, even though it’s both hopeful and heartbreaking and overall a giant gut punch. Picture Us in the Light doesn’t only examine traditional values in Asian-American families, but through a lens that examines filial and parental responsibilities and perceived notions of obligation within many Asian immigrant families.
I don’t want to spoil anything, but this book is so big and beautiful and complex and I’m heartbroken and put together by it.
My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Villanueva
Another middle grade recommendation, My Fate According to the Butterfly is perfect for the tradition prompt as it examines superstition (a giant black butterfly as an omen of death!) in the high-stakes situation of Sab preparing to celebrate her eleventh birthday with her family. From repairing family relationships to searching her history, this is sure to be a poignant read.
2019 has put so many awesome middle grade novels by Asian authors on my radar, and I think this would be a perfect story that tackles tough topics with warmth and humor.
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (illustrator)
I absolutely love this YA graphic novel’s concept and am itching to start it, because it’s 100% a tradition breaker. From queer rep to examination of toxic relationships, Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me explores new friends, young love, and breaking up. I’m so excited to not only read, but admire the gorgeous illustrations as well!
It’s one of my most anticipated graphic novel reads of the year, and I’m so happy to be able to shout it out to y’all today!