Our Friend is Here! Asian Heritage Month Edition – An Interview with Lyla Lee, Author of the Mindy Kim Series; On the Inspiration Behind Mindy Kim and Writing Korean Culture

Our Friend is Here: Asian Heritage Month Edition. Author interview with Lyla Lee, author of the Mindy Kim series; on the inspiration behind mindy kim and writing in korean culture. illustration of xiaolong the axolotl, her arms out wide as if she is showing off something, with lyla lee as a pink corgi, standing on her hindlegs, and holding a book.

Our Friend is Here! is a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.

Asian Heritage Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where Asian authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being Asian, Asian books, and the experiences of being an Asian reader. (Note: Here is an explanation of why we are calling this guest series ‘Asian Heritage Month’.)

When I read middle grade and young adult literature, something that I’m always on the look out for – and that I’m reflecting on – is the sort of books that I want to give to the young children in my life one day. Whether it is my own or family or children of friends, I often find myself asking: ‘what books do I want the young children in my life to grow up with, what books do I think they will find interesting, and what books do I want to shape them into empowered and thoughtful people?’

When I read Lyla Lee’s Mindy Kim series, I knew immediately: I’m going to give the younger children in my life the Mindy Kim series one day.

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Our Friend is Here! Asian Heritage Month Edition – An Interview with Jessica Kim, Author of Stand Up, Yumi Chung! On Comedy and Diaspora Korean Identity

Our Friend is Here: Asian Heritage Month Edition. Author Interview with Jessica Kim: author of stand up, yumi chung! and writing diaspora korean identity. xiaolong raising her arms up to show off jessica kim as a red dragon wearing a hanbok and holding a microphone. to the right is a portrait of jessica kim, next to her book's cover of stand up, yumi chung!

Our Friend is Hereis a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.

Asian Heritage Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where Asian authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being Asian, Asian books, and the experiences of being an Asian reader. (Note: Here is an explanation of why we are calling this guest series ‘Asian Heritage Month’.)

Something that we have been seeing more of in the last few years is Asian middle-grade books! Asian middle-grade books are a personal favourite; I love how middle-grade stories are often centered on learning about yourself, doing your best, and finding your space in the world while navigating change and growth. I love Asian middle-grade even more too! Seeing Asian authors write empowering stories and giving voice to younger Asian children – especially when being young and being Asian can be very confusing in today’s world – fills me with so much hope for the future.

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Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi – An Escapist and Resonant “Slice of Life” Story

Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi. Reviewed by Joce, The Quiet Pond.

Summary:

On paper, college dropout Pablo Rind doesn’t have a whole lot going for him. His graveyard shift at a twenty-four-hour deli in Brooklyn is a struggle. Plus, he’s up to his eyeballs in credit card debt. Never mind the state of his student loans.

Pop juggernaut Leanna Smart has enough social media followers to populate whole continents. The brand is unstoppable. She graduated from child stardom to become an international icon and her adult life is a queasy blur of private planes, step-and-repeats, aspirational hotel rooms, and strangers screaming for her just to notice them.

When Leanna and Pablo meet at 5:00 a.m. at the bodega in the dead of winter it’s absurd to think they’d be A Thing. But as they discover who they are, who they want to be, and how to defy the deafening expectations of everyone else, Lee and Pab turn to each other. Which, of course, is when things get properly complicated.

Joce’s review:

Permanent Record is a novel that takes its time. It acknowledges the reverberation of unresolved parental marital issues that trickles down into parenting styles, in minute and nuanced ways. It’s not a book that spelled everything out for me, but that’s the way I like things: kind of like a slice of life manga or anime. It’s a snippet into these people’s lives as opposed to A Story with exact plot points where you can see the outline, and the perfect novel for a hazy rainy day.

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Break the Fall by Jennifer Iacopelli – A Timely Portrayal and Celebration of American Women’s Gymnastics

breakthefall

Blurb:

Audrey Lee is going to the Olympics.

A year ago, she could barely do a push up as she recovered from a spine surgery, one that could have paralyzed her. And now? She’s made the United States’ gymnastics team with her best friend, Emma, just like they both dreamed about since they were kids. She’s on top of the world.

The pressure for perfection is higher than ever when horrifying news rips the team apart. Audrey is desperate to advocate for her teammate who has been hurt by the one person they trusted most–but not all the gymnasts are as supportive.

With the team on the verge of collapse, the one bright spot in training is Leo, her new coach’s ridiculously cute son. And while Audrey probably (okay, definitely) shouldn’t date him until after the games, would it really be the end of the world?

Balancing the tenuous relationship between her teammates with unparalleled expectations, Audrey doesn’t need any more distractions. No matter what it takes, she’s not going to let anyone bring them down. But with painful revelations, incredible odds, and the very real possibility of falling at every turn, will Audrey’s determination be enough?

Joce’s Revew:

First of all, this book is ON BRAND FOR ME, Y’ALL. A contemporary novel with a focus on a competitive artistic sport with a light romance and deals with heavier topics? This is ALL ME! Naturally, I had high expectations going into Break the Fall, but I am happy to report that it met and exceeded all of my expectations.

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Frankly in Love by David Yoon – More Than Just Fake-Dating; A Story About The Intersections of Family, Identity, and Love

David Yoon. Frankly in Love. A badge at the bottom-left that says, 'Reviewed by CW, The Quiet Pond'. In the centre is a image of Xiaolong, the pink axolotl wearing a flower hat, waving at you.
Blurb:

High school senior Frank Li is a Limbo–his term for Korean-American kids who find themselves caught between their parents’ traditional expectations and their own Southern California upbringing. His parents have one rule when it comes to romance–“Date Korean”–which proves complicated when Frank falls for Brit Means, who is smart, beautiful–and white. Fellow Limbo Joy Song is in a similar predicament, and so they make a pact: they’ll pretend to date each other in order to gain their freedom. Frank thinks it’s the perfect plan, but in the end, Frank and Joy’s fake-dating maneuver leaves him wondering if he ever really understood love–or himself–at all.

CW’s review:

Thank you to Penguin NZ for providing me an ARC in exchange for a review; this does not affect my opinions of the book.

Frankly in Love is not at all what I expected – and in retrospect, I am perfectly okay with that. In fact, I’m glad. Frankly in Love by David Yoon follows Korean-American teen Frank, whose strict and traditional Korean parents prohibit him from dating a non-Korean girl. So when he falls hard and fast for Britt Means, who is pointedly not Korean, Frank devises a scheme with his childhood (and Korean) friend, Joy, to pretend to date to allude their parents’ judgement – only to fall for each other in the process.

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