AAPI Month: BookTalk Style

In honor of AAPI Month, Solai Ramasubramaniyam 27 and Rithika Gunasekaran 27 read Aru Shah and the End of Time, which incorporates a modern twist on Hindu mythology.
In honor of AAPI Month, Solai Ramasubramaniyam ’27 and Rithika Gunasekaran ’27 read “Aru Shah and the End of Time,” which incorporates a modern twist on Hindu mythology.

Book open, blanket spread, snacks ready–what’s a better way to spend spring? So kick off those sandals and get settled with one of these books celebrating Asian and Pacific Islanders in honor of May’s AAPI Heritage Month!

Yeah, you’re welcome.

Graphic novels:
Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani is an inspiring graphic novel that encourages women to keep going and to confront oppression. Pri, a young girl living in America, travels to India to visit her aunt, taking her mother’s pashmina (a scarf) with her. Throughout the story, Pri discovers that India is not the idyllic place she imagined it to be. Pri’s experiences with her mother’s pashmina scarf serve as a powerful metaphor for resilience and self-discovery amidst adversity.

The Breadwinner
Written by Deborah Ellis, The Breadwinner is a heartwrenching story taking place in Taliban-overrun Afghanistan. The author introduces Parvana, a young girl who risks her life to become the so-called “breadwinner” of her family. Ellis composes a unique and compelling tale of courage, family, and friendships in times of hopelessness and fear, giving readers an understanding of oppression that so many face in our world.

The Shadow Hero
Set in 1930s Chinatown, The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew addresses the struggles immigrants faced in pre-WWII America. Hank, the son of immigrants from China, and his family are stuck in the clutches of poverty. After a series of events, Hank sets out on a mission, seeking justice for all the people discriminated against for their culture. A unique and fascinating story, The Shadow Hero is a must-read for all ages.

The New Girl
YA thriller novel The New Girl by Jesse Q. Sutanto is a dark academia and murder mystery set in a prestigious private school. Faced by discrimination everyday, Lia Setiawan is harassed for her Chinese-Indonesian ethnicity and poor family life. When she gets a scholarship at the famous Draycott Academy, you would think she’s set for life. But instead, her life is in danger. The New Girl fights hurtful stereotypes while giving the reader goosebumps at each plot twist and turn.

Hollow Fires
When a 14-year-old boy gets killed for “terrorism,” usually, people care. But not for Jawad Ali. This Muslim boy gets killed by a hate act after being accused of bringing a bomb into school — never mind that it was just a harmless cosplay plastic jetpack for Halloween. Set in a town in Chicago, Hollow Fires by Samira Ahmed follows aspiring journalist Safiya Mirza as she discovers the truth about what happened to Jawad Ali. With the strong theme of a quest for justice, Hollow Fires discusses discrimination against Muslims in our world today with a goosebump-inducing storyline that makes us rethink our own choices.

Patron Saints of Nothing
National book award finalist Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay is a poignant story following Filipino-American Jay as he navigates through his complicated relationship with his family and the horrors taking place in his home country. Jay feels like an intruder in his own country, and his family members tell him to not interfere with issues he couldn’t understand. But when Jay’s closest cousin, Jun, dies a suspicious death, Jay follows his inner fire to find out what really happened.

Dial A For Aunties
Winner of the 2021 Comedy Women in Print Prize, Dial A for Aunties has even been chosen to be made into a film by Netflix. Jesse Q. Sutanto, a Chinese-Indonesian author, expresses her enriching culture through her character Meddy Chan and her family. The book follows the Chans through their comedic shenanigans as they plan a wedding while navigating an accidental murder. The slightly dark humor and entertaining character dynamics make Dial A for Aunties a thoroughly enjoyable (and laughable) read.

Aru Shah and the End of Time
Bestselling author Roshani Chokshi’s series Aru Shah was nominated for the Andre Norton Nebula Award for Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction in 2018. Perfect for fans of Rick Riordan’s books, Aru Shah and the End of Time, a modern twist on Hindu myth, is a perfect mix of adventure and humor. Trying to impress her classmates, Aru commits a grave blunder and goes on a journey as she attempts to make things right again. Throughout the struggles and hardship she faces, Aru learns to accept who she is. With Aru’s relatable sarcasm and attitude, Chokshi successfully makes Aru Shah and the End of Time a captivating and interesting read for those who want to tap into their inner child.

Counting Down With You
YA contemporary sweet romance novel Counting Down With You by Tashie Bhuiyan is sure to melt anyone’s heart. Bangladeshi-American girl Karina Ahmed is weighed down by her parents’ strict rules. No revealing clothes, no slacking off, and definitely no dating. But fate has different ideas for her as she inevitably falls in love with Ace Clyde, resident “bad boy” and living violation of her parents’ rules. Written completely in heart-wrenching first-person narrative, Counting Down With You discusses important mental health issues and overwhelming stereotypes while giving readers the lovable romance story they want.

Love, Hate, and Other Filters
Best selling Indian author Samira Ahmed confronts topics of identity, belonging, and love in her book Love, Hate and Other Filters as protagonist Maya Aziz faces racist comments about her Muslim religion. This book navigates Maya’s life as she strives to not disappoint her traditional parents, yet still follow her own dreams. At the same time, she is torn between two heartthrobs, a Muslim guy who is perfect for her parents and her long-time non-Muslim, non-Indian forbidden crush. Get cozy with a warm cup of tea as you read this heartwarming book about tradition, family, love, and oneself.

Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating
Adiba Jaigirdar’s book Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating confronts many stereotypes about gender labels. Jaigirdar, a Bangladeshi-Irish queer Muslim, expresses the struggles she faced herself using her main characters Hani and Ishu. Both need the other to accomplish their goals, and so they enter a fake relationship. But as they get to know each other better, the two inevitably develop real feelings for each other, and as we all know, relationships can be complicated. Pull out your tissues and get settled in as Jaigirdar uses dual-perspectives to address relationship stereotypes with the most adorable of love stories.

Historical Fiction:
The Bridge Home
Winner of the South Asia Book Award, The Golden Kite Award, and the Walter Dean Myers Award, The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman follows eleven-year-old Viji and her developmentally-disabled older sister, Rukku, as they escape their abusive father and live life on the streets. This novel follows Viji and Rukku as they find friendship with two other homeless boys, and create a family in the unlikeliest of situations. Venkatraman emphasizes caste discrimination, disability, and religious difference in this stunning novel.

The Night Diary
Written by Veera Hiraandani, The Night Diary is a gut-wrenching story about the split between Pakistan and India in the year 1947. This story is a series of diary accounts of twelve-year-old Nisha to her late mother. As Nisha treks through the harsh deserts and the crowded trains, readers watch as Nisha and her family battle the thin line between life and death. Keep those tissues handy, as this powerful account is sure to open your eyes to hate in the real world.

They Called Us Enemy
Winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Young Adult Literature, The American Book Award, The National Cartoonists Society Award for Excellence in Graphic Novels, and more, They Called Us Enemy is a graphic novel that accurately displays Japanese Americans’ time in internment camps with stunning emotion and truth. George Takei, a Japanese-American author, depicts his time as a young child in internment camps with his family. Their many hardships and rare triumphs are shown honestly and spread awareness of this awful moment in history.

American as Paneer Pie
A Junior Library Guild selection, American As Paneer Pie by Supriya Kelkar is bound to be a worthy read. Lekha is the only Indian kid in her small Michigan town, and over time, she starts to lose her heritage. In an attempt to not be made fun of, Lekha hides the “Indian” part of herself from her school friends. But when a new Indian family moves into town, she starts to rethink her approach. Written in first-person narrative, American As Paneer Pie is the perfect example of a young girl finding her true voice.

Life of Pi
Winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, Yann Martel’s novel Life of Pi is an inspiring novel of resilience and hope. This is the remarkable story of Pi Patel, a young Indian boy who miraculously survived a shipwreck and tamed wild beasts while stranded at sea. Martel writes about multiple religious beliefs and explores several heavy subjects, making Life of Pi an extraordinary book for those who want to expand their horizons.

Amal Unbound
New York Times Bestselling Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed is a story to remember. Amal, a young girl in Pakistan, has always dreamed of becoming a teacher. But in an unfortunate turn of events, she is forced into indentured servitude after an altercation with a wealthier family. The novel Amal Unbound follows Amal as she navigates through the injustices she faces as a lower-class woman in Pakistan. As such, Saeed brings attention to many contemporary social crises in our world today affecting people in Pakistan. Inspired by Malala Yousafzai’s bravery, Amal Unbound is an important book to remember and acknowledge injustice today.

Inside Out and Back Again
Newbery Honor Award Winner Inside Out and Back Again by Thanha Lai is a verse novel that follows a young Vietnamese girl as she enters the United States as a refugee. Describing hope in times of despair, this novel is extremely emotional as Kim Ha, the main character, faces racism and poverty in her new home. Written in free verse, the style of the novel allows Lai to confront themes of belonging and security in a fast-moving society, making Inside Out and Back Again a notable read.

Chen Chen
Chen Chen’s poems reflect on and address youth, family, and love while navigating the complexities of LGBTQ+ Asian American and immigrant families.

  • “We’ll Be Gone After These Brief Messages”: Written in a casual, text-style tone, Chen Chen addresses true identity and human progress through time.
  • “I Invite My Parents For a Dinner Party”: Discusses the struggle to be accepted as LGBTQ+ in a “traditional” family.
  • “I’m Not A Religious Person but”: Uses a free-verse tone to discuss relationships with religion.

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