Oct 12, 2018

hey j.k rowling, representation matters! (blogger roundup)

Every bookworm can agree that the Harry Potter series is pretty great, but a lot of aspects of the Harry Potter series are problematic. In this day and age, it's important that we address these issues and discuss them. So today, I want to discuss the Crimes of Grindelwald and Nagini situation.

The final trailer for Crimes of Grindelwald was recently released and we found out that Nagini, Voldemort's pet snake, was actually an East Asian women. And everyone promply freAKED OUT BECAUSE WHAT THE ACTUAL HELL. Here is a great article on the whole situation. Anyway, the news blows over and I'm scrolling through my Twitter timeline and I'm angry. As a women, I'm disgusted, but I know asian women are even more disgusted. So, I turned my anger into a platform. Today, I have 10 teen asian book bloggers here to share their favorite asian protagonist from a YA book. They've all chosen a protagonist where they felt presented. I'm so thankful that I had the privilege to work with all these amazing bloggers! Without further ado, here are their paragraphs:

Chosen Book: Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan will always be the book that means so much to me as a queer Asian reader, because it’s one of the only books that I’m able to see both the queer and Asian parts of myself. The book as a whole is a love letter to Asian culture, with all the various mentions of Asian food and clothing that makes me feel at home. But at its core, it’s a story of two queer Asian girls finding love in a world that will do anything to wrench it away from them, and it’s absolutely beautiful.

I never would have thought, a year ago, that I would be seeing myself so well-represented in a book written by a queer Asian author. Watching Lei and Wren unapologetically fall in love and become stronger because of each other is so deeply meaningful to me, and I’m so happy that I’ve had the chance to read this book. It deserves all the hype and love, and I will never stop recommending it.

Chosen Book: Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan 

Ignite the Stars is not only an awesome and extremely engaging science fiction read, but it’s one that lets me see myself represented in genres that don’t get as much representation. Science fiction is my personal favorite genre, but the rep there is sometimes behind genres like contemporary. So, being able to see characters like Ia, who is loud and proud and Asian on the gorgeous cover of Ignite the Stars means so much to me. 

Ia is fierce and strong and although she makes some questionable decisions, in the end she has a good moral compass and I admire that about her, and more importantly, admire being able to see myself as someone who can be fierce and strong. The fact that we’re getting strong Asian rep by Asian authors is so incredibly important to me, and I’ll champion Ignite the Stars with my dying breath.

Chosen Book: The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee 

The Epic Crush of Genie Lo by F.C. Yee is an action-packed, swoon-worthy book featuring a Chinese protagonist. I loved so much this book! It was the perfect mixture between Contemporary and Chinese mythology, plus I related with Genie Lo regarding her university-related issues. 

The basis of the story is a pillar of Chinese literature, one I didn't know much about since I've never been interested in my parents' country and I regret not diving sooner into my ancestor's culture. Fortunately The Epic Crush of Genie Lo opened my eyes on what I was missing! 

I am happy that I could finally read a book with a Chinese character (as I had never seen myself represented in a book) and I hope I can continue to read more and more ownvoices books.

Chosen Book: Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed. 
Links: Instagram and Goodreads 

A cute contemporary young adult novel that explores such pivotal topics such as Islamophobia and finding your place. This book really touched my heart (even though I am much more of a fantasy and Sci Fi fan) the Muslim representation made me feel seen and so happy. I didn’t realise until after reading this book how much seeing my underrepresented identity would be so important for me. It gave me a renewed confidence and inspiration to follow my own dreams of writing novels with underrepresented identities, especially ownvoices ones!

Chosen Book: A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena 
Links: Twitter and Goodreads

You don't want to get involved with a girl like that. A girl who is trouble. A girl who doesn’t listen. A girl who quietly rebels. Zarin is everything—strong, confused, quiet, loud—all at once. She’s a realistically portrayed imperfect and unlikeable character I have forever wanted to see. 

A GIRL LIKE THAT is told from multiple points-of-view as it unravels the life of Zarin, a sixteen-year-old Indian girl in Saudi Arabia. Set in a diaspora that is rarely seen in YA, it boldly explores the misogyny, sexism and toxic masculinity in a society where women are treated like nothing more than objects.

Chosen Books: Warcross & Wildcard by Marie Lu

Be ready to dive into the world of a not-too-distant future where virtual reality consumes the general public. Warcross, the biggest virtual reality game, runs rampant and people escape reality or even to make a profit. Emika Chen is a skilled hacker and bounty hunter working to avoid eviction in her New York apartment. Bounty hunting is hard to come by and to make extra cash Emika hacks her way into the opening game of the international Warcross Tournament, but she glitches herself into the game and causes mass panic. Instead of being arrested, Emika is invited by the inventor of Warcross himself, Hideo Tenaka, to work a case. Someone has been evading and disrupting the game. As the plot unfolds, Emika becomes tangled in a web of code and complicated relationships.

 This amazing duology is written by the lovely Marie Lu who you may know from the Legend series and The Young Elites series. I highly recommend it because I absolutely love the whole premise of the novels. They feature a Chinese-American character, Emika, at the forefront along with a well-written diverse cast of characters. I love that this story features a Chinese character without it being about her struggles as a Chinese person. She’s simply living as a normal person would, and that’s truly what makes me love it even more.

Chosen Book: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Links: Twitter and Instagram

I don’t usually look for characters that represent me, the story and the feels it gives me is the priority. I did not realize that I was absorbing things from books. American, preferable blonde, pale skin, all of them were the “best”. I was looking down on myself, my culture and who I am. When I found When Dimple Met Rishi, I was ASTONISHED. For the first time I could RELATE to a character, and not just partway. I related to her struggles with her family and culture, I loved that she’s Indian, and I loved loved loved reading a book which not only focused on Indian characters, it was also known to so many others in the book community. For the first time a book with Indian MCs was spoken about on twitter and Instagram and that makes me so happy, I cannot describe it. It was only after WDMR did I change my twitter username to my actual, wholly Indian, name.

When Dimple Met Rishi is the story of Dimple who’s being set-up by her parents. It’s quite common in Indian families for arranged marriages, but she did not want it. She did not see how she would be happy for the rest of her life with a guy she hardly knows. Dimple just wants to pursue her love for Computers and grow in her field. Rishi is the exact opposite. He doesn’t love the field he’s pursuing and he believes in arranged marriages working out. Dimple and Rishi represent the main two types of Indian youth today and I related so much to both of them. This book is a gift.

Chosen Book: The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan 

The Astonishing Color of After can only be described as beautiful and I wanted to read it over and over again when I finished it. It follows the story of Leigh as she tries to find mother, now turned into a phoenix after she commits suicide, and at the same time, coming to terms with her own identity and what she wants to be. I have never ever read a book that is based on Chinese tradition for departed beings, a topic that not many know about if you didn’t grow up with. I was absolutely delighted and enchanted reading this, especially since the things she experiences whilst in Taiwan are ones that I am familiar with (the Hungry Ghost Festival, the burning incense, it all brings me back to the days when I was little and lived in my grandmother’s house). I laughed and sobbed and lived through the pages of this book. It also talks about the often traditional strict parents and the stigma surrounding mental health and stress in Asian cultures that disapprove of certain careers, such as those in art. I cannot stress how much I am in love with this book. Emily X.R. Pan did an incredible job portraying our traditions and I will forever recommend this book to everyone I talk to.

Chosen Book: American Panda by Gloria Chao
Links: Twitter and Goodreads 

American Panda was one of the first books that really made me feel seen in YA literature. It is such a me book: it is a light, cute, fluffy, relatable, adorable and awkward contemporary romance, but one with a Taiwanese-American main character (I’m Malaysian Chinese, but whatever). Mei (our main character)’s mother reflected so many parents of families I grew up around and also reflected parts of my own parents. Part of the heart of American Panda explores the tendency of parents constantly slapping labels on their children and by doing so, restricting their children to one particular field. There are so many little references to Taiwanese and general Chinese superstitions, many of which made me constantly chuckle aloud. But what hit me hardest of all was how Mei talked about being stuck between the world of her Asian roots and in the heavily Americanized, Western world. I’ve been stuck in that exact same predicament my whole life, and this was the first time I had ever read something like that being explicitly expressed in literature. It means the world to me and I will continue to recommend this for a long, long time.

Chosen Book: I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

A contemporary romance, I Believe in a Thing Called Love offered me both a relaxing and cute read with an ending to root for and a relatable story I could find myself in. Perfectionist and Stanford hopeful Desi Lee conquers her goals with lists and elaborate plans, earning the role of Student Body president, a spot on the varsity soccer team, and stellar academic marks. Only one thing seems to elude her: romance. Drawing from the k-dramas she has grown up watching, Desi devises the ultimate plan to achieve her happy ending.

A Korean-American high school student grappling with grades, extracurriculars, and personal life, I could find refuge in Desi’s words and how she approached challenges. Like me, she once attended a Korean school on Saturdays to cultivate her Korean language abilities, but also, like me, she does not speak fluently yet finds intersections of Korean and American in the food she eats (yay for good ramen!), the media she consumes, and the people around her, most significantly her father. I Believe in a Thing Called Love transformed the way I view contemporary romance novels-- though the love story constitutes the main plot, the character development and community have the potential to depict and represent so much more.

Thank you so much bloggers for sharing your amazing paragraphs! πŸ’“πŸ’•πŸ’–πŸ’—πŸ’ž I loved them all. πŸ’“πŸ’•πŸ’–πŸ’—πŸ’ž Readers, please check out their blogs and other links. Have a great Friday bookaholics!


  1. I mean honestly. JKR. I just. Maybe don't delete groundbreaking gay characters and relationships because they'd be too "distracting" from your main plotline? Like maybe consider that it's also pretty distracting when I'm trying to focus at school and I keep hearing slurs about my sexuality bouncing across the other side of the room? In fact, I might venture to say, your Royal Straightness, that could be even more distracting than one more subplot? What are those 600 pages for if not subplots?

    Eleanor | On the Other Side of Reality

    Uh also Anna I don't know if your design is necessarily that new since I've been absent for so long, but it's nEW TO ME AND I LOVE IT.

    1. The sarcasm in this comment is so deep and I love it and you

      AWWW thank you so much!!! It's so nice to see you active again Eleanor!!

  2. YASSS, book representation is so important!! I feel like if a race isn't sepcified in a book, people automatically presume them to be white. That's got to stop. Oh, and I only read the Astonishing Color of After, but hopefully I can read the others as well.

    1. Yes and yes! I totally agree. Yay! I'm so excited for Girls of Paper and Fire (i think it's coming out this november?)

  3. This post is AMAZING, Anna - it was a fantastic idea to put together. As for JKR.. at this point she can't even disappoint me she has fucked up so many times, and she is completely unable to take criticism. IDK if it is just her personality, or if it's all the fans who will protect her til death, but it's a horrible characteristics of hers. As for the books mentioned, I loved The Astonishing Color of After SO MUCH, and Genie Lo was super-fun, I'm very excited for new books by both these authors.

    Veronika @ The Regal Critiques

    1. Thank you Veronika! YES, YOU SUMMED HER UP PERFECTLY. The Astonishing Color of After sounds amazing; it's on my TBR!

  4. Thank you so much for creating a fabulous opportunity!! I'm feeling so much love and appreciation right now :)

    1. Not a problem! Aww, I'm so glad. <3 You (and your blog!) totally deserve more recognition in the blogging community.

  5. I only now got the time to read it and I LOVE THIS. Thank you for including me! I also found a couple books that I haven't come across. Adding it to my TBR!

    1. Of course! Thank you for joining the roundup. Oh yay, finding new books is the best!

  6. Oooooo love this!!!!! All of these books sound so cool!!

    Nabila | Hot Town Cool Girl