Have you ever felt unrepresented when opening a book? I feel some of us have had ‘the sigh’ that means “Oh I wish there was someone like me in this book I’m reading.” Many ethnicities, races, cultures, and backgrounds are not represented well or at all. This month is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month. For those of Asian and Pacific Islander descent, here are five books that have fantastic Asian/Pacific representation through characters.
1. Not Here To Be Liked by Michelle Quach
Eliza Quan is the ideal person to be editor-in-chief for her school paper. That is until ex-jock baseball star, Len DiMartile, runs for her position on a whim. Her chances seem to have gone out the window because Len’s ‘handsome’ looks and tall stature, being male, make him more of a leader.
Eliza starts to vent in a viral essay which begins a feminist movement that she never meant to start. She starts having several supporters, and of course those who think she is victimizing the situation. The tension in the school becomes thick and soon the school asks for Eliza and Len to be civil by working together. To top it all off Eliza keeps having stirs whenever Len is near. Can she be falling for the patriarch?
2. We Are Not Free by Traci Chee
A reading of second generation, Japanese American, young Nisei citizens and how their lives have changed. This is a collective account of the United States incarcerations of World War II. Fourteen teens have grown up together in Japan Town, San Francisco and want to speak up. When over 100,000 of Japanese ancestry are forced out of their homes incarceration camps, it has a huge impact on the youth. Give this book a try if you are interested in historical/cultural events.
3. If I Tell You The Truth by Jasmin Kaur
This amazing book is poetic and written in prose, including some illustrations. It focuses on a mother and a daughter’s relationship.
Kiran is a Punjabi Sikh woman who got pregnant by force because of her brother in law. When no one believed her, she left India and went to Canada. As an undocumented person, she had lots of trouble with finances, work, safety and constantly worrying about being deported. She always kept her head down and hidden away.
Eighteen years later, her daughter Sahaara wants to help her mother who was arrested. Fearing her mother will be deported, she tries to find a way to protect her. When the truth of her mother’s rape is revealed, she encourages her mom to speak out against the man, a now political figure in India.
Can Sahaara and Kiran gain freedom and family closeness?
4. We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal
The first installment of the duology Sands of Arawiya series.
Zafira is a Hunter, disguised as a man. She goes on a journey to a cursed forest of the Arz to help feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, who assassinates all those who oppose his father’s way of ruling. Many sultans are against his father, so they pay the price.
Zafira hides her identity because if she is exposed her ideas of saving her people will be rejected. Nasir has compassion in his heart, but if his father saw he would be punished.
Two legends in the Kingdom of Arawiya but not by choice. With war creeeping because of the Arz coming closer, engulfing the sand in the dark; a mission must be completed.
Zafira must find the magical artifact and restore peace.
Nasir must find the artifact and kill the Hunter.
However, an evil foe may rise during their journeys, will they be able to save themselves and protect their people?
5. All Kinds of Others by James Sie
A love story that is tender and uplifiting. When a cisgender man and a trans man become connected and use it as their strength.
There are two boys who are going to a new school.
Jules is figuring out his gay identity and is struggling to come out. Everyone he knows seems to have an opinion. His goal is to make it on the basketball team and keep his head down.
Jack is having a fresh start. After a best friend break up and a nasty past, he goes with his dad to LA. He needs to move on and start anew.
When Jack and Jules meet, instant connection befalls them. However, when trans vlogs and videos are found and connect themselves to Jack’s past, soon they are both put in the spotlight. Will they both deny who they are or lie through their teeth?
I hope any book lover will enjoy these strong Asian and Pacific Islander representations. For more go to Bookstr!