Asian American Pacific Islander Month is here and to prepare for the festivities I thought it would be great to share a few YA novels/series by AAPI writers.
When I was growing up, I didn’t know of many Asian American writers. Most of the characters I read were white and that always made me feel like an outsider. Fortunately, more and more writers of color have been able to publish their work and children and adults are able to see themselves on the page.
For those who have been searching, this post is for you.
Here are YA books by AAPI writers to read:
1. To All The Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han
Pages: 369 pages (Kindle Edition)
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (April 15th, 2014)
For the hopeless romantic, the story of half-Korean, Lara Jean, will have your heart reminiscing in the days of first love. This series not only delves into the concept of what it means to be in love but it also stresses the importance of culture and what it means to be Asian American.
2. Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Pages: 272 (Hardcover)
Published: HarperCollins (February 22nd, 2011)
This is the immigrant’s tale. It’s about a young girl named Hà and her experience moving to Alabama after she and her family fled the Vietnam War.
3. Tall Story by Candy Gourlay
Pages: 296 (Hardcover)
Published: David Fickling Books (2010)
Tall Story is a Filipino folktale that pays homage to Bernardo Carpio, a giant with strengths similar to both Samson and Hercules. This story takes a modern twist on the beloved Filipino myth and situates the hero in the world of basketball.
4. Dove Arising by Karen Bao
Pages: 396 (Hardcover)
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers (February 24th, 2015)
This sci-fi series about a young woman Phaet Theta who was born on a colony on the Moon and her quest to save her family.
5. The Kidney Hypothetical: Or How to Ruin Your Life In Seven Days by Lisa Yee
Pages: 272 (Hardcover)
Published: Arthur A. Levine Books (March 31st, 2015)
This is the high school story about an overachieving student whose life seems to fall apart after being asked the hypothetical question, “Higgs, if Roo needed a kidney, would you give her one of yours?”
6. Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim
Pages: 240 (Hardcover)
Published: Farrar Straus Giroux (March 31st, 2009)
Skunk Girl is an emotional story about a young girl named Nina and her search for identity as a Pakistani American woman.
7. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Pages: 240 (Paperback)
Published: First Second (first published September 1st, 2006)
This last book is a graphic novel that many Asian Americans can identify with. It breaks down systematic racism, it describes the pressures of fitting in a white America, and it intertwines Chinese myth, white privilege, and how to accept one’s self.
If anything, this novel is worth the read because it proves that Asian Americans don’t need to try to fit into white America. Asian Americans, be yourselves. If other people can’t accept that you’re not “American enough,” then they’re the problem. Not you.