Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month: YA Fiction

Having missed out on Star Trek as a child, I first heard of George Takei about ten years ago when he began posting hilarious memes on Facebook. More recently, he’s been known for his political activism and for sharing his childhood experience in an internment camp during WWII. This is the topic of his 2019 graphic novel They Called Us Enemy. Takei relates the circumstances of his family’s forced removal from their Los Angeles home and the four years they spent behind bars. He tells the story as he experienced it as a child, layered with facts he learned from his parents years later. Takei directly addresses the political and social context that led to his family’s imprisonment and draws parallels to current anti-immigration policies. Reading this graphic novel was a riveting and moving experience.

They Called Us Enemy is currently available on Hoopla as a bonus borrow eBook, meaning it won’t counttowardyour limit of ten Hoopla items per month. While I was initially not enthused about the prospect of reading a graphic novel on my phone, it was actually pretty comfortable. The Hoopla app zooms in to show one panel at a time, allowing you to read the text fairly easily and ensuring that you read the panels in the correct sequence. It’s also available as an eBook through OverDrive, where the Libby app allows you to zoom in, but you have to swipe around the page from panel to panel.

More great titles featuring Asian- and Pacific-Americans:

Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert
Grades 9 and up
OverDrive: eBook
Hoopla: digital audiobook
“Cupertino, California, high school senior Danny Cheng has a tight circle of friends, adoring parents, and a full scholarship to his dream school, the Rhode Island School of Design. But lurking just beneath the surface are secrets and tensions that threaten to tear apart everything he holds dear.”—Kirkus Reviews

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Grades 8 and up
OverDrive: eBook and digital audiobook
Hoopla: digital audiobook
“Basking in her acceptance to Stanford, Dimple is surprised when her parents agree to let her attend a six-week “Insomnia Con” in San Francisco. Not long into her convention, Dimple discovers why her parents were so willing to let her go. She has been set up to meet a potential husband—the very traditional yet charming Rishi.”—School Library Journal
The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan
Grades 9 and up
OverDrive: eBook and digital audiobook
“Leigh comes home to the unimaginable—her mother, who has always been depressed, has committed suicide. As her grief swells, Leigh believes in her fog that her mother has not died but her mother's spirit has now turned into a vivid bird who brings Leigh gifts, both physical and in the form of memories. Trying to put all the pieces together, her father and Leigh travel to Taiwan, where her mother immigrated from to the United States after meeting Leigh's father.”—School Library Journal
Frankly in Love by David Yoon
Grades 9 and up
OverDrive: eBook and digital audiobook
“Frank's older sister fulfilled their parents' dreams—making it to Harvard—but when she married a black man, she was disowned. So when Frank falls in love with a white classmate, he concocts a scheme with Joy, the daughter of Korean American family friends, who is secretly seeing a Chinese American boy: Frank and Joy pretend to fall for each other while secretly sneaking around with their real dates.”—Kirkus Reviews
The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee
Grades 7 and up
OverDrive: eBook and digital audiobook
Hoopla: digital audiobook
“Jo Kuan leads a double life: a public role as a quiet lady's maid and a secret one as the voice behind the hottest advice column in 1890 Atlanta. Chinese American Jo is mostly invisible except for occasional looks of disdain and derisive comments, and she doesn't mind: Her priority is making sure she and her adoptive father, Chinese immigrant Old Gin, remain safe in their abandoned abolitionists' hideaway beneath a print shop.”—Kirkus Reviews
Categories: Authors & Books, eNewsletter, Library News, and Teens.

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