Article by: Tyler Taylor and Adele Lukusa Header by: Adele Lukusa Image description: A yellow background, with "The Lit Club" written on top, and in small in the right corner "May Edition".
For this month, as it is Mental Health Awareness Month and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, for the Lit Club we’ve decided to honour these two themes and recommend and review books about mental health and by Asian American and/or Pacific Islander American authors. Enjoy!
The Boy and the Bindi by Vivek Shraya
A beautiful children’s picture book that showcases a young Indian boy’s fascination with his mother’s bindi, the red dot commonly worn by Hindu women. Rather than chastise her son, she teaches him about its cultural significance and doesn’t flinch when he asks for one himself. Wearing it allows him to joyfully explore and express his difference. - Goodreads
Genre: Children’s Fiction
The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda
Don’t Sweat. Don’t Laugh. Don’t draw attention to yourself. And most of all, whatever you do, do not fall in love with one of them.
Gene is different from everyone else around him. He can’t run with lightning speed, sunlight doesn’t hurt him and he doesn’t have an unquenchable lust for blood. Gene is a human, and he knows the rules. Keep the truth a secret. It’s the only way to stay alive in a world of night—a world where humans are considered a delicacy and hunted for their blood.
When he’s chosen for a once in a lifetime opportunity to hunt the last remaining humans, Gene’s carefully constructed life begins to crumble around him. He’s thrust into the path of a girl who makes him feel things he never thought possible—and into a ruthless pack of hunters whose suspicions about his true nature are growing. Now that Gene has finally found something worth fighting for, his need to survive is stronger than ever—but is it worth the cost of his humanity? - Goodreads
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer--they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along. - Goodreads
Genre: Young Adult Romance
The Devourers by Indra Das
On a cool evening in Kolkata, India, beneath a full moon, as the whirling rhythms of traveling musicians fill the night, college professor Alok encounters a mysterious stranger with a bizarre confession and an extraordinary story. Tantalized by the man’s unfinished tale, Alok will do anything to hear its completion. So Alok agrees, at the stranger’s behest, to transcribe a collection of battered notebooks, weathered parchments, and once-living skins.
From these documents spills the chronicle of a race of people at once more than human yet kin to beasts, ruled by instincts and desires blood-deep and ages-old. The tale features a rough wanderer in seventeenth-century Mughal India who finds himself irrevocably drawn to a defiant woman—and destined to be torn asunder by two clashing worlds. With every passing chapter of beauty and brutality, Alok’s interest in the stranger grows and evolves into something darker and more urgent.
Shifting dreamlike between present and past with intoxicating language, visceral action, compelling characters, and stark emotion, The Devourers offers a reading experience quite unlike any other novel. - Goodreads
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
Written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by her cousin Jillian Tamaki, this is a graphic novel centered around a young girl called Rose and the effect one summer has on her entire life. Set at her lake house in Awago Beach, Rose, along with her friend Windy, deal with growing up, first loves and family problems.
When I first picked up this book, I wasn’t expecting to like it, as the protagonists were way younger than me and living through problems I’ve never dealt with. But as it progressed, I liked it a lot more than expected. These cousins made the effort to portray Rose, Windy and the rest of the characters as realistic, as they all have flaws and experience their own problems. I would have loved to read something like this as a 12-year-old, which might have comforted me a lot more than the other YA novels I spent all my time reading. Rose is seen struggling with her feelings towards her parents, mainly with her mother, who she shames and blames for her parents’ disputes. Growing up as a girl in this society, it is hard to unlearn the prejudices embedded into our society and planted in our thoughts, and with Rose at the cusp of adolescence, this situation is presented truthfully and realistically. Struggling with her conflicting feelings about her mom and her crush’s girlfriend, she lashes out the only way she knows how, and in return is called out by her friend, Wendy. By adding this scene, of a girl spotting misandry, Mariko Tamaki truthfully portrays the presence of misogyny in our society, something I’ve rarely seen presented with characters so young or done so efficiently.
I would recommend this book for anyone who enjoys the Tamaki cousins’ work and doesn’t mind reading a story from the perspective of a tween.
Adele’s rating: 3.9/5 stars
The Sun is Also a Star by Kekla Magoon
This book tells the story of the sudden romance between Jamaican teen Natasha and Korean-American teen Daniel. The book’s storyline depends on the fact that Natasha and her family are about to get deported that night. On her journey to an office of someone she believes can help her, she is seen by Daniel, who thinks she is the most mesmerizing person he’s ever laid eyes on. Quickly he becomes interested and begins to try to talk to her. While he believes it’s love at first sight, she is more realistic and believes he is silly for falling in love with her. The couple travels around New York City together, exploring the differences in their beliefs about love and life. We learn about their relationships with their family and go on their journey of self-exploration with them. The book is written in dual perspectives, helping the reader get a better insight into how each character feels. One major problem the couple faces, besides the deportation, is the disapproval of their parents because of each other’s ethnicity. This leads to moments of high tension where putting the book down seemed impossible. This book was so captivating that I finished it in about 2 days. Personally, I cried very hard once I finished it, mostly because I was sad that it was over and because I wanted a sequel. The storyline of this book is so new and innovative that you can’t help but love it.
Tyler’s rating: 5/5 stars