Bookworms Review: Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Malinda Lo, author of “Last Night at the Telegraph Club.” Lo is one of the AAPI authors that we read this month. Illustration by Pearl McNames.

The beginning of May means a little less spring rain and the beginning of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. We’re here to offer you a variety of different reads with AAPI main characters by AAPI authors as a starting point for this month. We encourage you to seek out a diverse collection of authors and maybe add some of these to your list. 

“Last Night at the Telegraph Club” by Malinda Lo is the perfect intersection of niche tropes and genres. Blending historical fiction and sapphic romance, “Last Night at the Telegraph Club” follows seventeen-year-old Lily Hu, an ordinary girl living in 1950s Chinatown. When a school friend, Kathleen Miller, takes her to a lesbian club, Lily’s life is turned upside down and everything she thought she knew about herself was turned on its head. We recommend this coming-of-age love story for any readers desperate for some good sapphic content.

“Parachutes” by Kelly Yang splits its focus between Claire Wang, a privileged girl from Shanghai who is sent to study at a private high school in California, and Dani de la Cruz, a scholarship student who hosts her during her stay. At first, the two avoid each other at all costs—but as their lives become more complicated and intertwined, they have to figure out how to support each other. This book handles serious topics with the gravity they deserve through flawed characters trying their best in an unfair world. 

“The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan explores the experiences of Chinese immigrant families and the complexity of mother-daughter relationships, especially within immigrant families. It focuses on four families who play mahjong, a Chinese tile based game, together in what they refer to as The Joy Luck Club. Each of the characters has a section of the book devoted to telling their story. This book is an emotional journey about the nuance of the Chinese American experience that successfully puts you in the shoes of each woman, throwing you through their memories at a startling, and sometimes confusing, pace.

In a story that eerily mirrors current events, “Severance” by Ling Ma follows millennial drone Candace Chen after an apocalyptic plague sweeps through the world. After joining a group of survivors on their quest for a place called “the Facility,” Candace must keep a secret that could endanger her to the rest of the group. This dark, witty book is perfect for anyone looking for entertaining commentary on capitalism. 

“A Phở Love Story” by Loan Le is a charming story of young love, perfect for enjoyers of the enemies-to-lovers trope. Two teenagers from two different families with intensely competitive phở restaurants (Romeo and Juliet retelling, anyone?) find themselves falling for each other despite the rivalry. This book covers everything from food and high school to immigration and racism. While there are some slow moments, it’s overall adorable and will leave you craving phở. 

Some books that we are looking forward to reading: “Dial A for Aunties” by Jesse Q. Sutanto, “Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls: A Memoir” by T Kira Madden, “Frangipani” by Célestine Hitiura Vaite, “Crying in H Mart” by Michelle Zauner, and “Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning” by Cathy Park Hong. 

Some of these books contain upsetting or triggering content. For more information on these subjects, or if you have any suggestions, reactions, or additional opinions on books that you want to share with us, we welcome all emails sent to bookworms.fhspost@gmail.com. 

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