LOVE: Must Read Books by Asian Authors: Young Adult Edition

must read books by asian authors YA edition juicygreenmom

Here’s my round-up of YA fiction by Asian authors that you must read! I love reading YA, especially books that bring me back to my younger days and remind me of how my own identity formed.

(Note: For readers in the U.S., I’ve included links for because they are a climate neutral certified company, Certified B corp, and they infuse funding into independently owned bookstores!)

Foul Lady Fortune

by Chloe Gong

This is classified as a YA novel, but it is a book of such breadth and depth! Historical fiction, fantasy, mystery, thriller, romance are all ways to describe its genre. Such a fascinating look into 1931 Shanghai, and the political tension between the Nationalists and Communists, and the Japanese Imperial army with secret spy vibes. And then there’s the supernatural elements. So many plot twists and OMG moments to keep you wondering! I listened to the audiobook, and it was really cool to hear it narrated from the dual points of view. A really exciting and thrilling read!

Tokyo Ever After

by Emiko Jean

I LOVED Tokyo Ever After and Tokyo Dreaming by Emiko Jean – they are SO SO very much the books I needed as a young adult and still resonate so much with me now. Identity, romance, and so much more in these beautifully written (and beautifully narrated audio) books! You don’t need to be a YA to enjoy YA reading 😁
I need more Izumi adventures in my life!


by John Cho

I heard about this book by in an interview about authors writing about race issues. It is marketed as a young adult novel but I loved it! It takes place during the 1992 riots in LA following the acquittal of white police officers in the beating of Rodney King. The main character is a Korean kid whose parents own a store in the neighborhood of the riots. It does a beautiful job of illustrating the tension between Black Americans and Korean Americans at the time (and potentially why that tension still exists today), as a result of the oppressive systems of white supremacy.
If you’re not into reading non-fiction, this is a great book with a suspenseful plot, that also delves into race issues in a meaningful and understandable way. I think it’s a great way to get anyone (including young adults) thinking about how to be more antiracist.

Frankly in Love

by David Yoon

This is the book I wished I had in high school. It is a book about high school sweethearts (or not), navigating the filial piety that comes with Korean immigrant parents while trying to fit into white high school life. It’s about relationships between friends, lovers, parents and children, and discovering identity. The representation and exploration into racism is exactly what my teenage self needed to see. A wonderful read!

American Panda

by Gloria Chao

This book is a hilarious YA coming-of-age story about a 17-year-old Taiwanese American girl who is the perfect model minority, to the great pride of her Taiwanese immigrant parents. This book made me guffaw out loud because of so many parallel experiences I have had with a Taiwanese immigrant mother (the voicemails from her mother alone are like a stand-up comedy bit). It was a lovely exploration into finding your own identity and sense of belonging, especially given the pressures of being part of the Asian diaspora. I loved hearing the Mandarin phrases throughout which really brought me into the story. The mother-daughter relationship especially was very emotional and moving. Loved it!

Last Night at the Telegraph Club

by Malinda Lo

This YA queer romance/historical fiction novel is so much! It delves into the history of Chinese immigrants to America in the 1940s-1950s, and the gay community in 1950s San Francisco. It’s a beautiful exploration of a girl realizing who she is while struggling with the intersection of race and sexuality, familial piety, belonging, and the very real threat of deportation for Chinese immigrants. An exhilarating book!

Fake Dates and Mooncakes

by Sher Lee

This YA rom-com has so much good stuff – Asian representation, LGBTQ representation, heartwarming story, complex family relationships, exploring cultural backgrounds… It is funny and sweet and wonderful – as delightful as a well made moon cake. The characters are real and loveable. It was exactly the book I needed after reading some heavier novels – it picked up my mood and made me smile again.

What other recommendations do you have for YA fiction books by Asian authors?

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