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Did you know that May is Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month? 

To give a little history, the United States recognizes in May all of the amazing contributions and influences of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans, such as their achievements, culture, and history.  The Asian/Pacific region encompasses all of the Asian continent and the Pacific Islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia. You can learn more about the rich heritage of AAPI at the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month website here!

So, to celebrate, get ready for a culturally enriching ride with some of the best YA books out there by Asian writers! Also, check out Freegal Music’s Asian American Pacific Islander Playlist and additional titles offered by Hoopla’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Collection!

(All summaries are from the publishers)

Need a library card? Please visit Get a Library Card to sign up for one today!

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, and Steven Scott

***2020 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature: YA Literature Winner***

A stunning graphic memoir recounting actor/author/activist George Takei’s childhood imprisoned within American concentration camps during World War II. Experience the forces that shaped an American icon — and America itself — in this gripping tale of courage, country, loyalty, and love.

George Takei has captured hearts and minds worldwide with his captivating stage presence and outspoken commitment to equal rights. But long before he braved new frontiers in Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father’s — and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future.

In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten “relocation centers,” hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard.

They Called Us Enemy is Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.

What does it mean to be American? Who gets to decide? When the world is against you, what can one person do?

Graphic Novel Available on Hoopla
Graphic Novel Available on Overdrive

Frankly in Love by David Yoon

***2020 Asian Pacific American Award for Literature: YA Literature Honorary Mention***

Two friends. One fake dating scheme. What could possibly go wrong?

Frank Li has two names. There’s Frank Li, his American name. Then there’s Sung-Min Li, his Korean name. No one uses his Korean name, not even his parents. Frank barely speaks any Korean. He was born and raised in Southern California.

Even so, his parents still expect him to end up with a nice Korean girl–which is a problem, since Frank is finally dating the girl of his dreams: Brit Means. Brit, who is funny and nerdy just like him. Brit, who makes him laugh like no one else. Brit . . . who is white.

As Frank falls in love for the very first time, he’s forced to confront the fact that while his parents sacrificed everything to raise him in the land of opportunity, their traditional expectations don’t leave a lot of room for him to be a regular American teen. Desperate to be with Brit without his parents finding out, Frank turns to family friend Joy Song, who is in a similar bind. Together, they come up with a plan to help each other and keep their parents off their backs. Frank thinks he’s found the solution to all his problems, but when life throws him a curveball, he’s left wondering whether he ever really knew anything about love—or himself—at all.

Audiobook Available on Overdrive
Ebook Available on Overdrive

Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

LAIA IS A SLAVE. ELIAS IS A SOLDIER. NEITHER IS FREE.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

“Ember in the Ashes” is the first book in the “Ember in the Ashes” series.

Audiobook Available on Overdrive
Ebook Available on Overdrive

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. [read more=”Read more” less=”Read less”] Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

“When Dimple Met Rishi” is the first book in the “Dimple and Rishi” series.

Audiobook Available on Hoopla
Audiobook Available on Overdrive
Ebook Available on Overdrive

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

As the daughter of a time traveler, Nix has spent sixteen years sweeping across the globe and through the centuries aboard her father’s ship. Modern-day New York City, nineteenth-century Hawaii, other lands seen only in myth and legend—Nix has been to them all.

But when her father gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end. Rae Carson meets Outlander in this epic debut fantasy.

If there is a map, Nix’s father can sail his ship, The Temptation, to any place and any time. But now that he’s uncovered the one map he’s always sought—1868 Honolulu, the year before Nix’s mother died in childbirth—Nix’s life, her entire existence, is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix’s future, her dreams, her adventures . . . her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who’s been part of their crew for two years.

“The Girl from Everywhere” is the first book in the “The Girl from Everywhere” series.

Audiobook Available on Hoopla
Ebook Available on Hoopla
Ebook Available on Overdrive 

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

There are three kinds of people in my world:

  1. Saints, those special people moving the world forward. Sometimes you glaze over them. Or, at least, I do. They’re in your face so much, you can’t see them, like how you can’t see your nose.
  2. Misfits, people who don’t belong. Like me—the way I don’t fit into Dad’s brand-new family or in the leftover one composed of Mom and my older brother, Mama’s-Boy-Muhammad.

Also, there’s Jeremy and me. Misfits. Because although, alliteratively speaking, Janna and Jeremy sound good together, we don’t go together. Same planet, different worlds.

But sometimes worlds collide and beautiful things happen, right?

  1. Monsters. Well, monsters wearing saint masks, like in Flannery O’Connor’s stories.

Like the monster at my mosque.

People think he’s holy, untouchable, but nobody has seen under the mask.

Except me.

Ebook Available on Overdrive

Serpentine by Cindy Pon 

***Fall 2015 Junior Library Guild Selection***

Serpentine is a sweeping fantasy set in the ancient Kingdom of Xia and inspired by the rich history of Chinese mythology.

Lush with details from Chinese folklore, Serpentine tells the coming of age story of Skybright, a young girl who worries about her growing otherness. As she turns sixteen, Skybright notices troubling changes. By day, she is a companion and handmaid to the youngest daughter of a very wealthy family. But nighttime brings with it a darkness that not even daybreak can quell.

When her plight can no longer be denied, Skybright learns that despite a dark destiny, she must struggle to retain her sense of self – even as she falls in love for the first time.

“Serpentine” is the first installment of the “Serpentine” series.

Ebook Available on Hoopla 

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

***Winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction***

One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, goes to her job at a nail salon and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her.

With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left mystified and bereft. Eventually adopted by a pair of well-meaning white professors, Deming is moved from the Bronx to a small town upstate and renamed Daniel Wilkinson.

But far from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his adoptive parents’ desire that he assimilate with his memories of his mother and the community he left behind.

Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid examination of borders and belonging. It’s a moving story of how a boy comes into his own when everything he loves is taken away, and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of the past.

Audiobook Available on Hoopla
Ebook Available on Hoopla
Ebook Available on Overdrive 

Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong

***Winner of the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize***

“In the body, where everything has a price, I was a beggar,” opens Vietnamese American and gay poet Ocean Vuong in his debut full-length poetry collection.

Most of the poems here are confessional and intimate—ones about relationships and his family who got separated in the fall of Saigon during the Vietnam War. Vuong, who was given the birth name “Ocean” by his immigrant mother, also explores his American identity.

Ebook Available on Hoopla

Riverrun by Danton Remoto

Riverrun is a coming-of-age story that follows a young gay boy growing up under the government’s tyranny in 1960s Philippines. 

The book is genre-bending. Shaped in the form of a memoir, it glides from childhood to young adulthood in chapters written like flash fiction and vignettes, along with a recipe, a feature article, excerpts from poems, and vivid songs.

Ebook Available on Hoopla