Flashy and achingly hip, this insider take on K-pop trainee life is def for the dedicated.
Months ago I got an excited message from a coworker saying she ordered copies of the upcoming K-pop YA novel K-pop Confidential by Stephan Lee for our bookstore, but really specifically for me. I’ve established myself as the K-pop bookseller at work and that means I absolutely had to read K-pop Confidential as soon as possible. But once I started reading I had the same feeling that I get when I hear a new comeback song I’m not sure about: do I actually like it, or am I just a devoted fan? Both?
Continue reading “K-pop Confidential” is for those in the know
Finding Black queer joy in the chaotic world of high school prom season.
Prom can mean a lot of things to different people; for me, it means indifference and some nice photos taken in my backyard. But that doesn’t mean I’m indifferent to the fun of YA prom: the friends, the date, the outfits. Prom stories are popular because they encapsulate so much of the quintessential American high school experience full of drama and traditions that in hindsight may not have aged well by 2020. So what could challenging those traditions look like? I think a glimpse at what new YA fairy tales should be lies in Leah Johnson’s debut novel, You Should See Me in A Crown.
Continue reading Getting your fairy tale ending in “You Should See Me In a Crown”
“Shine” is about being true to yourself, your dreams, and the people important to you. Reading into the book for dirt on the K-pop industry or Jung’s past is ultimately a disservice to her as a writer and the book she wrote.
Last summer, poet and author Ocean Vuong came to speak at the Harvard Book Store about his debut novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. During his talk he spoke about the trap of autobiographical fiction, the thing that happens when an author writes a book heavily based off their life experiences, but the story and actual events may or may not be true. Even though it’s a fictional story and characters, because it so closely resembles the author’s real life readers will automatically use the story to make assumptions about the author. This was the case for many Asian American writers including Vuong, Maxine Hong Kingston, Amy Tan, and I expect will repeat itself for Jessica Jung, former K-pop idol and debut young adult author of Shine.
Continue reading Following your dreams and finding what makes you sing in “Shine”
About a year ago my roommates and I decided to start a book club together. I don’t remember who or what prompted it, but the rules were simple: each person picks a book, we draw the titles out of a jar, and then after about a month or so we’ll go out to dinner and discuss it.
The four of us have somewhat similar tastes in what we like to read: fiction, YA, fantasy, fun tropes, magic. But we chose books new to all of us and each pick could vary wildly in how much others like it. Sometimes we’ll choose books from our TBR lists, other’s recommendations, or if we heard enough good things about it. It’s an interesting mix, and the books from Round 1 definitely felt like a grab-bag of miscellany, but that’s what makes our book club fun.
Continue reading Apartment Book Club Round 1
Perfect for fans of “Crazy Rich Asians” and not just because both books feature attractive young Asian people with too much money.
I know it’s unpopular to pitch new things––books, movies, TV shows, etc––relative to how it’s alike to other already popular things. It’s not fair to say that every new magical book series for kids is the “next Harry Potter” when really the only thing in common is some magic wands. I get that. However. Jenny Lee’s YA debut book, Anna K really is the next Crazy Rich Asians (but teenagers).
Continue reading OMG can you believe “Anna K”? Because I’m not sure I can