Chinese American, born and raised in Boston, live and work in New York. I like thick-skinned dumplings, flip flops, baseball, and sour gummy worms. I write about things, sometimes snarkily. I review things, sometimes with opinions. And I do the Twitter thing @lilyvwong
Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani is a delightful graphic novel about a young girl looking for herself, navigating two worlds and two cultures. Priyanka is your average Indian American teenager until she finds a magic pashmina in her mother’s closet. Her mother won’t ask questions about the India she left behind or about Priyanka’s father, but the pashmina opens a new window. The story follows Priyanka’s eventual journey to India and back again, all along insightfully […] Continue »
My First Book of Vietnamese Words: An ABC Rhyming Book of Vietnamese Language and Culture, the latest addition to Tuttle’s My First Book of [fill in blank] Words series came out recently. It is written by Tran Thi Minh Phuoc, and artfully illustrated by Nguyen Thi Hop and Nguyen Dong. The book guides visitors through the English alphabet with short rhymes and some contextual information: C is for Cu. The owl flies at night, but when […] Continue »
September 21 is International Peace Day, what more fitting a day than to talk about origami cranes–or at least a book on cranes. Origami Peace Cranes: Friendships Take Flight by Sue DiCicco is a children’s book about friendship and making connections despite differences. Emma–pictured center on the cover–is nervous about going to a new school and thinks no one will want to be her friend. That is of course until her teacher invites them to all […] Continue »
Lisa Ko’s debut novel, The Leavers, follows a mother and son separated by immigration agents, borders, and new families. Deming Guo wakes up one day in the Bronx to find that his mother Polly has disappeared. Soon, he is Daniel Wilkinson of upstate New York. We follow Daniel as he struggles through high school, the emotional turmoil of his mom’s abrupt departure, makes a friend who isn’t white, makes a friend who was adopted from China […] Continue »
Vanessa Hua’s debut collection of short stories, Deceit and Other Possibilities, guides readers through a “deceit” to provide a compelling portrait of human nature. The spotlight falls on a range of individuals, a Hong Kong celebrity, a Korean American pastor, a Mexican American learning an unorthodox trade from his father. Not about spies nor lies precisely, each story is a portrait of a life — choices that unravel to reveal who we are against who we want […] Continue »
The Hope of Another Spring: Takuichi Fujii, Artists and Wartime Witness brings Fujii’s art to a broader audience with the stunning pages from a diary he kept while incarcerated during World War II. Written by Barbara Johns and with an introduction by the artist’s grandson Sandy Kita, this book offers a historical, art historical, and also deeply personal insight on to Takuichi Fujii. The first half delves into Fujii’s biography, providing an overview of his […] Continue »
Heroine Worship by Sarah Kuhn is the riveting sequel to Heroine Complex, starring not just one, but two badass Asian American superheroines. You may or may not recall that I loved Heroine Complex when it came out last summer. The first book in this series followed Evie Tanaka as she morphed from sidekick to full blown superhero with fire throwing powers. Throw in a budding romance thrown in and an at times testy relationship with her best friend, […] Continue »
8Asians and Stone Bridge Press are teaming up to give away two copies of Jeanette Arakawa’s The Little Exile. It’s the story of a Japanese American middle school girl sent to an internment camp during World War II. As Koji put it a few weeks ago in his review: The novel is a must read for anyone interested in what it was like in the time after Pearl Harbor for Japanese Americans to what life was like […] Continue »
Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire is the debut novel from author Susan Tan about a spunky and spirited half-white, half-Chinese eight and half year old with grand visions for her future and astute insight into her past. Cilla is our narrator, and this is her memoir–her first step to reaching her destiny as Future Author Extraordinaire. Now I know I’m not the target audience for Cilla Lee-Jenkins (ages 8-12 says her publisher’s website), but I did thoroughly […] Continue »
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, the latest novel from author Lisa See, is a story of mothers and daughters. Li-Yan is a member of an ethnic minority in the tea mountains of Yunnan, China, growing up in a time of immense change for the region. From a small child learning to harvest tea, we follow her journey into adulthood, her struggle with her culture’s traditions and what they mean when she gives birth to her own […] Continue »
The Best We Could Do is a beautifully drawn and beautifully narrated memoir by Thi Bui. It is the story of her family and how she reckoned with their past, flight from Vietnam, family members lost and found again…and all the whirling emotions that always come with anything that has to do with family. None other than Viet Thanh Nguyen graces the cover with the recommendation, “a book to break your heart and heal it.” And […] Continue »
Min Jin Lee’s second novel Pachinko follows several generations of a Korean family living under Japanese colonialism. In the 1930s in a small town in colonial Korea, a young woman named Sunja is abandoned by her wealthy lover, but saved by a young minister who marries her and takes her to Japan. If there can be said to be a central character it is Sunja, though Lee weaves such an intricate tale as to make it hard […] Continue »
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