The Children’s Book Review | October 16, 2019
Written by Gloria Chao
Age Range: 12 and up
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
What to expect: Romance, Asian-American experience, racism, family secrets, humor
Author Gloria Chao delivers humor with a dose of reality in this charming sophomore book.
As if being a teen isn’t hard enough, Ali Chu is the only Asian-American person in her rural Indiana high school. Ali’s friends don’t pronounce her name correctly (say “Ah-Lee,” not “Allie”) because they think it’s “weird.” And she makes peanut-butter sandwiches so that her mom’s delicious leftovers won’t become the topic of rude comments at the lunch table. Sure, her friends seem to accept her… but on their terms.
Then when Chase walks into school, Ali’s worldview shifts. He’s Taiwanese American, just like her, and he’s super hot. Ali is determined not to like him. She’s irritated that everyone has already matched them up in her head. And there’s also her mother’s ringing cries of “only Chinese boys!” in her mind. She’s been turning herself to “white toast” to keep under the radar in this school—she’s determined to stay there. That is until Chase stands up to a racist remark from a teacher. Something inside her snaps, and Ali is suddenly aware of how irritating and rude the casual racism around her is. She begins to fight back, calling out others, including her friends. Chase is right beside her, pressing her forward and helping her see her true self. Ali quickly starts to fall head over heels for him.
But when Ali’s mom finds them together, she forbids their romance. Ali begins to investigate her mother’s secret past, desperate to find out why her mother wants her to stay away from Chase. The secrets she uncovers might blow her whole family, and everything she thought about herself, apart. Can Ali find her way to her own true happiness and live her authentic life?
Gloria Chao, author of AMERICAN PANDA, has given readers a glimpse into a heartfelt and witty protagonist they won’t soon forget. Ali is sharp and full of humor; her terrifically teen worldview perfectly jaded and full of quick witticisms. Readers will laugh out loud (I did!) at some of Ali’s hilarious observations about the world around her. And woven throughout is the famous legend of the Butterfly Lovers from China, a fascinating storytelling technique that allows Chao to shine with her flowing, effortless narrative. It’s a compelling dichotomy against the punchy, quirky story of Ali.
Chao excellently blends a quick-paced, heartfelt novel with a dose of real truth that will leave many readers with new questions on their minds. How do our jokes and comments affect others? How quickly do we judge wrongly, and how can we support friends in similar situations?
This honest and hilarious love story will have teens entranced. With whip-smart dialog and a fast-paced mystery, OUR WAYWARD FATE is the perfect book for any teen.
Highly recommended, especially for school or library book clubs.
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About the Author
Gloria Chao is the critically acclaimed author of American Panda and Our Wayward Fate. Her wayward journey to fiction included studying business at MIT, then becoming a dentist. Gloria was once a black belt in kung-fu and an avid dancer, but nowadays you can find her teaming up with her husband on the curling ice. Visit her tea-and-book-filled world at GloriaChao.Wordpress.com and find her on Twitter and Instagram @GloriacChao.
Read our exclusive interview: Gloria Chao Discusses Our Wayward Fate
Our Wayward Fate, written by Gloria Chao, was reviewed by Denise Mealy. Discover more books like Our Wayward Fate by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with Asian American Books, Books with Secrets, Contemporary Romance Books, Family Relationships, Gloria Chao, Racism, and Young Adult Fiction.