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Our Wayward Fate

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Seventeen-year-old Ali Chu knows that as the only Asian person at her school in middle-of-nowhere Indiana, she must be bland as white toast to survive. This means swapping her congee lunch for PB&Js, ignoring the clueless racism from her classmates and teachers, and keeping her mouth shut when people wrongly call her Allie instead of her actual name,pronounced Āh-lěe, Seventeen-year-old Ali Chu knows that as the only Asian person at her school in middle-of-nowhere Indiana, she must be bland as white toast to survive. This means swapping her congee lunch for PB&Js, ignoring the clueless racism from her classmates and teachers, and keeping her mouth shut when people wrongly call her Allie instead of her actual name, pronounced Āh-lěe, after the mountain in Taiwan. Her autopilot existence is disrupted when she finds out that Chase Yu, the new kid in school, is also Taiwanese. Despite some initial resistance due to the "they belong together" whispers, Ali and Chase soon spark a chemistry rooted in competitive martial arts, joking in two languages, and, most importantly, pushing back against the discrimination they face. But when Ali’s mom finds out about the relationship, she forces Ali to end it. As Ali covertly digs into the why behind her mother’s disapproval, she uncovers secrets about her family and Chase that force her to question everything she thought she knew about life, love, and her unknowable future. Snippets of a love story from nineteenth-century China (a retelling of the Chinese folktale The Butterfly Lovers) are interspersed with Ali’s narrative and intertwined with her fate.


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Seventeen-year-old Ali Chu knows that as the only Asian person at her school in middle-of-nowhere Indiana, she must be bland as white toast to survive. This means swapping her congee lunch for PB&Js, ignoring the clueless racism from her classmates and teachers, and keeping her mouth shut when people wrongly call her Allie instead of her actual name,pronounced Āh-lěe, Seventeen-year-old Ali Chu knows that as the only Asian person at her school in middle-of-nowhere Indiana, she must be bland as white toast to survive. This means swapping her congee lunch for PB&Js, ignoring the clueless racism from her classmates and teachers, and keeping her mouth shut when people wrongly call her Allie instead of her actual name, pronounced Āh-lěe, after the mountain in Taiwan. Her autopilot existence is disrupted when she finds out that Chase Yu, the new kid in school, is also Taiwanese. Despite some initial resistance due to the "they belong together" whispers, Ali and Chase soon spark a chemistry rooted in competitive martial arts, joking in two languages, and, most importantly, pushing back against the discrimination they face. But when Ali’s mom finds out about the relationship, she forces Ali to end it. As Ali covertly digs into the why behind her mother’s disapproval, she uncovers secrets about her family and Chase that force her to question everything she thought she knew about life, love, and her unknowable future. Snippets of a love story from nineteenth-century China (a retelling of the Chinese folktale The Butterfly Lovers) are interspersed with Ali’s narrative and intertwined with her fate.

30 review for Our Wayward Fate

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Solomon

    WOW. I adored AMERICAN PANDA, and while this sophomore novel has Gloria Chao's signature incisive, humorous voice, it's a much darker, more intense book. The prose is at turns stunning and visceral, and every character is complex and three-dimensional. An intricate story of identity and family that's impossible to put down.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Gloria Chao

    I wrote Our Wayward Fate to explore: -what it's like to grow up as a teen POC in a mostly white Midwestern town -stereotypes and racism -miscommunication between parents and children, especially children of immigrants who don't wholly feel like they belong anywhere In this book, you can expect humor, romance, banter, martial arts, and so. many. secrets! (One of which is pictured on the cover!) This is a contemporary story, but a 19th Century retelling of the Chinese folktale, "The Butterfly I wrote Our Wayward Fate to explore: -what it's like to grow up as a teen POC in a mostly white Midwestern town -stereotypes and racism -miscommunication between parents and children, especially children of immigrants who don't wholly feel like they belong anywhere In this book, you can expect humor, romance, banter, martial arts, and so. many. secrets! (One of which is pictured on the cover!) This is a contemporary story, but a 19th Century retelling of the Chinese folktale, "The Butterfly Lovers," is interspersed. You can read the first chapter on Bustle here! And advanced eARCs can be requested on Edelweiss here. Update: eARCs are now available for request at NetGalley! .

  3. 4 out of 5

    USOM

    (Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) Our Wayward Fate is perfect for fans of Frankly in Love and Picture Us in the Light - some of my other favorites. I don't even have the words to write a cohesive review of Our Wayward Fate. I could go on and on about the plot which will keep you reading until long after you needed to leave the house. Or the characters which will charm you with their love of Kung Fu and puns. But (Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) Our Wayward Fate is perfect for fans of Frankly in Love and Picture Us in the Light - some of my other favorites. I don't even have the words to write a cohesive review of Our Wayward Fate. I could go on and on about the plot which will keep you reading until long after you needed to leave the house. Or the characters which will charm you with their love of Kung Fu and puns. But the icing on the cake was the way I could relate to Ali's struggles as one of the few Asian Americans in her mostly white neighborhood. Our Wayward Fate touched my heart. The ways Ali suffers from self-erasing her identity, her differences, deeply resonated with some of my own experiences growing up. When you laugh, because you think the feeling in your throat will go away, and instead the lump grows larger and more difficult to stomach. How comments make you uncomfortable without knowing the words to voice how. The racism Ali and Chase experience in this book was never as overt as what I experienced growing up, and our experiences are different as I'm a Chinese American adoptee, but I felt deeply seen in some of Ali's experiences. The arrival of Chase Yu in Ali's school begins a tidal wave explosion. What follows is not only a wake up call to Ali to call out the racism in her friends and school, but also to confront some of the issues within her own family. Ali learned that it was easier to not make a ripple, to exist slightly under the surface. But Chase believes in speaking out at every opportunity. In their relationship they not only find a similar love for cheesy puns and Kung Fu, but also a kinship - a feeling of being seen by someone who can understand your same shorthand. full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...

  4. 5 out of 5

    may ❀

    the n*ah c*ntineo quote notwithstanding, i really enjoyed this book but idk how to put my thoughts into words aaaaaaaaaaaa so i think that gloria chao is able to write the struggles that come with being an asian kid (or any coloured kid for that matter) in a western country. the way she writes and is able to capture the feelings of isolation and never feeling like fitting in, is captured in such a personal way and makes the reader connect with the main character instantly i also felt like the book the n*ah c*ntineo quote notwithstanding, i really enjoyed this book but idk how to put my thoughts into words aaaaaaaaaaaa so i think that gloria chao is able to write the struggles that come with being an asian kid (or any coloured kid for that matter) in a western country. the way she writes and is able to capture the feelings of isolation and never feeling like fitting in, is captured in such a personal way and makes the reader connect with the main character instantly i also felt like the book was almost written in a stream-of-conscious form or like a diary, everything is very easy to read but is packed with emotions the romance was sweet, the realistic aspects of the resolution were great, the plot went somewhere i was not expecting (in an adventerous way) but i had some difficulties in the beginning of the book. i felt like the characters moved really quickly in development and some subplots were more confusing than helpful to the mainplot i wish i could have distanced this book from 'american panda' but i found myself constantly comparing the books and while this one was great, i really LOVED and related to american panda so much more and that might have taken away some of my enjoyment of this book anywhos, 3.5 stars and we never talk about the n*ah c*ntineo quote

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer

    Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer... The Buzz American Panda was one of my top books of 2018 (its a really strong debut) so when I saw Gloria Chao had a new book out I knew I wanted to read it ASAP! And the cover of Our Wayward Fate convinced me further!! I love the dreamy quality to it and how the colors pop. It gives you a sense of fate, destiny and a girl's future. And the title is perfect! I love how it was mentioned in the story and how it reflects Asian belief in fate. The Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer... The Buzz American Panda was one of my top books of 2018 (its a really strong debut) so when I saw Gloria Chao had a new book out I knew I wanted to read it ASAP! And the cover of Our Wayward Fate convinced me further!! I love the dreamy quality to it and how the colors pop. It gives you a sense of fate, destiny and a girl's future. And the title is perfect! I love how it was mentioned in the story and how it reflects Asian belief in fate. The Premise I love the purpose and premise of Our Wayward Fate and how it played out in the story. The Butterfly Lovers is a Chinese folktale and Chao uses it as a jumping off point for one character's motivation in Ali's life. It becomes this sort of modern retelling that is woven into the contemporary story without taking over. With it comes this insight into Chinese culture that was subtle and relatable even if we don't have Chinese parents. But first we meet Ali Chu. She's the only Asian person at her school and in order to fit in she rejects some of her Chinese heritage. Totally understandable!! In fact, white people even reject hobbies and activities they love in order to fit in with high school. So its really something that can be identified with, and gives readers a door into imagining how it feels to be a part of another culture and not able to embrace it. But it is the way that Ali and Chase clicked that sucked me in!! I loved how we saw Ali bloom into her heritage and embrace that side of herself. Sure it took a boy but it as easily could have been anyone who was Chinese. Sometimes we just click with a person and they become our person and it feels like they've always been at our side. Everything with them feels powerful and emotional... even when we disappoint and hurt them (even when that wasn't our intention!) This story is about way, way, way more than some high school romance. Because life starts with parents. We all have our own struggles with a parent who doesn't understand us, wants us to be different than we are or is distant instead of interested in us. Ali had this same struggle. And she has to fight for who she wants to be, what she wants her future to look like and find joy in living today too. Our Wayward Fate takes us on a Chinese American journey and I was happy every page of the book! My Experience Our Wayward Fate captured me! I remember that while I enjoyed American Panda immensely the writing style was a touch generic. So the contrast between the two books was stark. Ali's narrative voice was so strong and specific. I loved her so much and got where she was coming from. I was fully on her side. Events felt realistic and I think Chao’s writing really was key. I think one of the reasons this resonated for me too is that I totally got all the steps that Ali took to learn about Chase and her mother. Many will think she was really extreme. She breaks into so many things that you will think she's choosing a career as a criminal!! But the truth, understanding someone was so important to her... Because she was denied this from the person who should have given that to her freely. We all seek such acceptance. I really love the themes in Gloria Chao's works. Our Wayward Fate interprets The Butterfly Lovers folktale in such a fascinating and contemporary way! The weight of expectations is high... Confrontation really can do wonders in revealing the truth! I liked the end so, so much. Positive but not unrealistically sweet. You'll regret passing up Our Wayward Fate, its better than Amercan Panda if you can believe that!! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Authenticity ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Writing Style ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Plot & Pacing ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ World Building A+ Cover & Title grade Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. It has not influenced my opinions. ______________________ You can find this review and many others on my book blog @ Perspective of a Writer. Read my special perspective under the typewriter on my reviews... Please like this review if you enjoyed it! *bow* *bow* It helps me out a ton!!

  6. 4 out of 5

    CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨

    Wow. This book packs an emotional punch; a fantastic, candid, but ultimately hopeful story about being who you are in a place that wants you to hide who you are, complex family relationships, and taking charge of your fate. - Follows Ali, a Taiwanese-American teen who is the only Asian in her small-town school - until she Chase, the new kid in school and Taiwanese, shows up. When Ali's mother forbids their budding romance, Ali has to know why, spurring a wild journey that delves into family Wow. This book packs an emotional punch; a fantastic, candid, but ultimately hopeful story about being who you are in a place that wants you to hide who you are, complex family relationships, and taking charge of your fate. - Follows Ali, a Taiwanese-American teen who is the only Asian in her small-town school - until she Chase, the new kid in school and Taiwanese, shows up. When Ali's mother forbids their budding romance, Ali has to know why, spurring a wild journey that delves into family secrets and the weight of sacrifice. - Heck, friends. I cannot describe to you the FEELING I had when I figured out the twist just moments before Ali does (I was listening to the audiobook). And I was legitimately devastated for her. DEVASTATED. I haven't felt so affected in this way by a book in a long time - and I think that goes a long way. - But anyway, this is a story about identity and just... feeling proudly Asian and expressing your identity when you're surrounded by casual racists and ignorant bigots. I felt Ali's confusion but riveted in her affirmation and the confidence she found to be her full and proud Asian self. - I adored the romance in this. It was a bit quick, but I think that was the point - Ali and Chase had instant chemistry and they just connected effortlessly. I really loved this. - The family stuff in this was fantastic. Heavy, at times, but so fantastic. I love how Chao is not afraid to delve into tough family dynamics and conversations that would instinctively make any Asian kid squirm. But the confrontational and vulnerable storytelling had such a wonderful impact. - I loved how this intertwined with the Butterfly Lovers. It was superb and I enjoyed it so much. Trigger/content warning: (view spoiler)[microaggressions and racism (mostly challenged in-text) (hide spoiler)]

  7. 5 out of 5

    Alexa

    Our Wayward Fate has me a little stirred up when it comes to my overall feelings. I really enjoyed the exploration of Chinese culture (and the details included, particularly the story of the Butterfly Lovers) and the complicated nuances of coming from a Chinese background when also having grown up American. But, on the other hand, I didn’t necessarily completely love the execution. The characters were all right, but the narrative itself just didn’t flow as naturally to me as I’d have wanted it Our Wayward Fate has me a little stirred up when it comes to my overall feelings. I really enjoyed the exploration of Chinese culture (and the details included, particularly the story of the Butterfly Lovers) and the complicated nuances of coming from a Chinese background when also having grown up American. But, on the other hand, I didn’t necessarily completely love the execution. The characters were all right, but the narrative itself just didn’t flow as naturally to me as I’d have wanted it to.

  8. 4 out of 5

    - ̗̀ jess ̖́-

    BLOG | TWITTER Initially, Our Wayward Fatecaught my eye because I'd heard a lot about Gloria Chao's debut,American Panda,and though I hadn't read it I'm always excited to see new books from Chinese authors. Honestly, I was expecting a typical contemporary romance from Our Wayward Fate. What I got was an exploration of being the children of immigrants and reconnecting to your culture intertwined with the cute romance. Ali is a really fun protagonist; she's very sarcastic without being overly BLOG | TWITTER Initially, Our Wayward Fate caught my eye because I'd heard a lot about Gloria Chao's debut, American Panda, and though I hadn't read it I'm always excited to see new books from Chinese authors. Honestly, I was expecting a typical contemporary romance from Our Wayward Fate. What I got was an exploration of being the children of immigrants and reconnecting to your culture intertwined with the cute romance.  Ali is a really fun protagonist; she's very sarcastic without being overly sullen about it, mostly because a lot of her standoffishness is to cope with being the only Chinese person in a small town and the racism she experiences from her friends and classmates. I've never experienced the kind of racism that Ali does, but I've definitely had similar experiences, and I could really relate to pushing away my culture so I could fit in with my white classmates.  So the main conflict in the book is between Ali and her immigrant parents who want the best for her while pushing her away from her boyfriend, Chase Yu, the other Taiwanese kid who moves to the town early on in the book. Even though he helps Ali reconnect with her Taiwanese identity, the politics within the Taiwanese immigrant community--and especially Ali's parents--keep them apart. Usually, I'm not really a fan of the forbidden romance trope, especially when it's heterosexual, but the one between Ali and Chase rang true to me. I did find the beginning of their relationship wasn't really developed well, but they did have a lot of chemistry towards the end of the book. I honestly wasn't a huge fan of Chao's writing. It read as overly rambly and somewhat immature to me, but there were a lot of funny and introspective moments; the last quarter or so of the book is really strong, and if the whole book was similar I think I would have enjoyed the writing more. One of the narrative choices I really liked was Chao's decision to leave most of the Mandarin used in the story untranslated, which made the dialogue more immersive. Ali's story is intertwined with the folk tale of the Butterfly Lovers, which I'd honestly never heard about before this book, but is a very well-known folk tale in China. Despite some of the problems I had with the romance and writing, I quite enjoyed Our Wayward Fate and found I could relate to a lot of Ali's experiences as a Chinese person. I definitely recommend this for those who are searching for diverse contemporary romance books that will make you think. representation | chinese main characters, gay side character Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kristi Housman Confessions of a YA Reader

    RTC Thank you to the publisher for sending me an arc for review.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    3.5/ 5 stars This book is a Young Adult contemporary romance that focuses on the cultural aspects of being a Taiwanese American teen living in the Mid-West. I really liked American Panda so I knew that I wanted to read the author's newest book. The narrator is 17 year old Taiwanese American Ali/Allie (1st person POV). She lives with her parents in Indiana and is the only Asian student at her school. My favorite thing about this book was learning more about this culture. I think that this story 3.5/ 5 stars This book is a Young Adult contemporary romance that focuses on the cultural aspects of being a Taiwanese American teen living in the Mid-West. I really liked American Panda so I knew that I wanted to read the author's newest book. The narrator is 17 year old Taiwanese American Ali/Allie (1st person POV). She lives with her parents in Indiana and is the only Asian student at her school. My favorite thing about this book was learning more about this culture. I think that this story really shows what it is like for some teens living in certain parts of the US that aren't as culturally diverse. The start of this book was cute. Ali was struggling as the only Asian in her school. A lot of the teachers and students were very insensitive and racist. A new Asian boy shows up at the school (Chase) and his family has secrets, as does Ali's family. This was a key focus of the book. These secrets added so much to the story. Ali and Chase's story is intertwined with a love story from 19th China (a retelling of the Chinese folktale The Butterfly Lovers). I didn't love this part of the book. But I was intrigued with where the present story ended up. The last half of the story was strong. And overall this was an enjoyable read. Thanks to netgalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for allowing me to read this book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Aila

    Y'ALL. I LOVE THE BUTTERFLY LOVERS SO MUCH like y'all don't realize how much of a foundation this story is in Chinese history. There's movies, TV shows, operas and plays, heck even MUSIC inspired by this tragic tale of a young scholar and a woman who was discontent with her role in society. Chao managed to weave this famous legend into a gorgeous story about Ali and her reconnection with her family, identity, and Taiwanese heritage. FULL REVIEW TO COME. LITERALLY THO LEMME TELL YOU HOW BIG THE Y'ALL. I LOVE THE BUTTERFLY LOVERS SO MUCH like y'all don't realize how much of a foundation this story is in Chinese history. There's movies, TV shows, operas and plays, heck even MUSIC inspired by this tragic tale of a young scholar and a woman who was discontent with her role in society. Chao managed to weave this famous legend into a gorgeous story about Ali and her reconnection with her family, identity, and Taiwanese heritage. FULL REVIEW TO COME. LITERALLY THO LEMME TELL YOU HOW BIG THE BUTTERFLY LOVERS IS. It's one of those stories where you stop any person in the East/Southeast region of Asia and they be like "oh yah I know that story" or "oh yah I heard about that." What story from the US can say the same? (Can't answer that one bc the US technically just steals cultures/traditions from other places and I OOP--) (Sorry, the discontent college student in me is going off) - a h e m - and back to the point: They ice skated to this story: Made a drama (or three) after it: There's the cultural park (that's also referenced in the book) after this tale: And of course, the very famous concerto about them: YT link here I've always wanted to see The Butterfly Lovers somehow incorporated in YA, and Chao does it flawlessly in this book, and through Ali's story. 11/10 recommend.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    Finding a new author whose books you love is such a great bookish feeling. Obviously, I was thrilled to love Chao’s debut, American Panda, and eager to read more books from her. For me, though, I think it’s really the sophomore novel that cements what kind of relationship I’m going to have with that author’s books. Not that Sally Thorne couldn’t come back from whatever happened in 99 Percent Mine and write all books I love from here on out, but it definitely makes me really nervous when the Finding a new author whose books you love is such a great bookish feeling. Obviously, I was thrilled to love Chao’s debut, American Panda, and eager to read more books from her. For me, though, I think it’s really the sophomore novel that cements what kind of relationship I’m going to have with that author’s books. Not that Sally Thorne couldn’t come back from whatever happened in 99 Percent Mine and write all books I love from here on out, but it definitely makes me really nervous when the sophomore novel doesn’t measure up to the debut. Our Wayward Fate sets Gloria Chao officially up as an author whose books I am obsessed with. Once again, Gloria Chao’s novel deals primarily with themes of cultural identity and family. Don’t get me wrong; there’s totes a cute romance again, and that’s part of why I love these books for sure. However, I’d definitely class these as being about family and identity and not about romance. Usually, that might be a sign that an author’s books wouldn’t really be ideal for me, because lbr we know I am all about romance, but Chao writes voice and family and identity and everything else so well that I think I’d be okay if she didn’t put any romance in (though no need to test me on that). When Our Wayward Fate begins, Ali Chu’s mostly given up. As the only Asian student in her school, the microaggressions have worn her down to the point where she ignores them. She does her best to blend, and she doesn’t call people out on their shit (even the pronunciation of her name, which is not said like “Allie”) because that would just leave her friendless and in trouble. I was, frankly, horrified by the racism in this book, though it is mostly microaggression stuff. It actually felt kind of dated to me, but considering that I grew up in an urban area with a large Asian population things were probably pretty different than in Ali’s small town. At home, Ali’s pretty much doing the same thing. Her parents haven’t been communicating since her dad took this lower-paying job in Indiana. Their relationship’s clearly messed up, and that same distance has translated to their relationship with their daughter. Neither of them really talks to her anymore, except for her mother to tell her what to do and what not to do, because mama knows best. Like every single teen in existence pretty much, Ali in no way believes that her mother knows what’s best for her. The catalyst for change in Our Wayward Fate in classic YA style is a hot male transfer student. It’s funny because I didn’t think about that until I sat down to write the review, but yup. Chase Yu makes the second Asian at the school, and, of course, everyone tells both of them all day (before they’ve met, mind you) that they would make a perfect couple. It’s racist and uncomfortable, and the last person Ali wants is a Chinese boy because 1) her mom said she could only date a Chinese boy and 2) everyone at school expects them to hit it off just because they’re both Chinese. Problem is that Chase and Ali totally do hit it off. They do have a lot in common, such as a love of kung fu (practicing it but probably also watching the movies) and of flirting by the usage of many puns. They are freaking adorable, and I loved the tension of not wanting to be together because people do want you to be together, because it’s usually the opposite. Their nerdy banter delights me so much. I love this ship a lot, especially with the way that Chase acknowledges her superiority in martial arts without any hurt feelings. Chase came from Flushing, and he’s not used to the constant microaggressions, so he challenges them. This in turn inspires Ali to care again. It definitely helps to have a friend left when you burn bridges with people by refusing to let them believe that the racist shit they’ve said is actually okay and nice. Even though I love seeing Ali stand up for herself and fight back and let some of that simmering inner anger out, it’s so understandable why she didn’t when she was alone. She and Chase keep getting sent to the office for calling out a teacher on a racist comment, and it’s such exhausting bullshit. This novel does a great job highlighting how difficult it must be to be the sole POC somewhere. Our Wayward Fate is one of those books where sometimes you will absolutely want to shake the heroine and send her gifs that say “look at your life, look at your choices” because instead of communicating, she will absolutely always choose snooping. It’s so frustrating because you’re there shouting “no, seriously, just ask” or “push for an answer, don’t give up!” and she absolutely will not do that. In a lot of books, that’s a massive weakness because it doesn’t make sense, but this is one hundred percent how Ali would act, because it’s exactly what her family is like. There’s a theme in the book all about how Chinese families do not communicate the way that white families do. By default and also if asked, Ali can count on her parents not ever confiding anything. The only way she can learn anything about them is to snoop in their business. If I had to break this book down to one key theme it would be that communication is the most important foundation to a healthy relationship. So, yes, it’s at times frustrating, but in a very good and real way, and the character arcs are fantastic. The weaving of The Butterfly Lovers and the modern park interactions in little snippets between every couple of chapters didn’t totally work for me. For roughly half of the book, they’re confusing because it’s like “wtf is this even?”, and ultimately the connection didn’t seem all that strong. I did feel like that plot element needed a stronger tie-in, and I don’t think the chapters about the park a few months before ended up adding anything but confusion. All of that was a neat idea, but I’d prefer sticking to Ali’s perspective, even though I did like The Butterfly Lovers. In case you missed my yelling about American Panda, listen to me now. GLORIA CHAO’S BOOKS ARE AWESOME AND YOU SHOULD READ THEM.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sakina (aforestofbooks)

    Thank you so much to Simon& Schuster Canada and NetGalley for letting me review this arc!! After reading American Panda, I just knew whatever Gloria Chao wrote next would be a book I absolutely had to read. American Panda was difficult, and I went into Our Wayward Fate with the same expectation: that I would relate in so many ways, and it would hurt and dredge up old memories and feelings. Despite that, I don’t think I was ready ready? I had to take some breaks, which is fine, because Thank you so much to Simon& Schuster Canada and NetGalley for letting me review this arc!! After reading American Panda, I just knew whatever Gloria Chao wrote next would be a book I absolutely had to read. American Panda was difficult, and I went into Our Wayward Fate with the same expectation: that I would relate in so many ways, and it would hurt and dredge up old memories and feelings. Despite that, I don’t think I was ready ready? I had to take some breaks, which is fine, because honestly a part of me loves painful books because I feel seen and heard in ways I don’t in other books I’ve read. There are so many secrets in this book. Like wow, I was not expecting as many twists and turns. I did not see the true intention of the park until it was revealed because I just wasn’t expecting this book to go there for some reason. And when I realized what was happening, I needed to take a break to process it all… Beginning with Ali…I really loved the distinction between how Americans pronounce Ali (as Allie) and the actual pronunciation. It reminded me of my own middle name, which is also Ali, and how people pronounce it wrong all the time. Ali is such a fun, messy character. She does and says things that are questionable and sometimes outrageously wrong, yet she has good intentions; she just struggles to voice them appropriately most of the time. Chase’s introduction at Ali’s school was just perfect. I really loved how bold he is and how he stands up against the racism he faces immediately. I loved how he brought out Ali’s spirited side. Seeing Ali change and stand up for herself against her “friends” and her teacher was so inspiring and heartwarming. It’s how I know a lot of kids would like to be, but it can be so scary when you don’t have the support you need from friends or family. The one problem I had with the romance was that it felt rushed. I think everything happened a bit too fast (though having read the arc and not the finished copy, I don’t know if things are the same). The timeline didn’t span a few months like I was expecting, and by the time Ali is off to China, she hasn’t really known Chase for all that long. But they’re absolutely obsessed with each other in that short span of time, which I guess is totally possible, I’m just picky with romance lol The other issue I had was with the dialogue. Compared to American Panda, the characters in OWF acted a lot younger, even though they’re only a year or two apart from Mei and Darren. Some of the lines were cringey and the jokes repetitive. It did take me a while to get into the flow because it felt a little awkward at times. Though I think Ali and Chase grow into the characters more and things just fit better by the end? The Butterfly Lovers…I actually had a friend tell me the story right as I was starting this book. I had no idea that this story was going to be such a major part of the book, so when I finally fit the pieces together I was shook lol. That being said, I really liked the differences in how the story ended compared to the original. I also loved the little snippets we get from the past, where we get to follow along with Zhu Yingtai and Liang Shanbo. And also the flashbacks we get from the park. The park scenes were a little confusing at first, but I think it was done really well because I was surprised when the plot twist was finally revealed. Ali’s relationship with her family was difficult to read, and honestly seeing what her mother had planned left me pretty angry. It was just something I could relate to on a personal level, something I could see happening to myself, and it was a little scary and triggering. I did love how Ali confronts both her parents and points out their flaws and how she doesn’t back down when they try to explain themselves with their nonsensical excuses. I was really angry at her mother because she’s so selfish. She ruined what she had because her expectations (which she didn’t bother sharing with her husband) weren’t met. She made decisions because she thought she knew best, which is something so common among Asian parents, I was rolling my eyes along with Ali every single time her mom told her that. The main problem here was lack of communication, which I think is a huge problem in Asian families. We don’t know how to talk about feelings and we also don’t know how to listen to other opinions. And then things become a mess and it just spirals. Communication was a huge theme in this book, from the way Ali skirts around just asking Chase about his past and turns to theft, to her breaking into her mom’s safe because her mom won’t talk to her, to seeing how her father was too ashamed to discuss his feelings with this wife when he lost his tenure, to Ali’s mother making decisions for her instead of talking to her. It was painful to read. And while I liked how things were on their way to being resolved at the end, I was actually expecting things to go the divorce route, especially considering the things Ali’s mother said to her father and what she almost did to Ali. It is nice for things not to end that way, and it’s nice to see a family try to communicate with each other and solve their issues rather than everything falling apart. But…I don’t know. Maybe I can’t forgive that easily, or having an outside perspective makes me a bit more harsh. But Ali’s mother isn’t great and pretty toxic. And by the end I really hated her a lot. The cultural divide between Ali and her mother and how what her mother says isn’t 100% what she exactly means, was nice to see because it’s a real thing and it really showed how hard and complicated and confusing it can get when you don’t just have lack of communication but a communication divide because of culture. And while we can blame a lot of that for Ali’s mother’s actions, it still doesn’t take away from the fact that what she did was wrong and awful. And I did like how Ali made sure to point that out at the end too. Healing is a difficult process, filled with ups and downs, when one moment you hate everything and are so angry, and the next you feel pity and guilt and sadness. It’s a mess, and I definitely felt like I was a mess at the end. 4/5 stars. I look forward to reading the finished copy one day, just to see the differences and how the formatting changes. (The epilogue did feel a little confusing because there weren’t any scene breaks in the arc.)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    As soon as I read the synopsis for Our Wayward Fate, I knew it was going to be one of my all-time favorites - and I'm happy to say I wasn't wrong. Our Wayward Fate is about complex family ties as well as who we are individually, and is jam packed with a refreshing sense of humor that doesn't detract from the ways in which people of color can be isolated in a supposedly tight-knit town. Our Wayward Fate tells the story of Ali Chu, a Taiwanese-American teenager living in a suburban (white) As soon as I read the synopsis for Our Wayward Fate, I knew it was going to be one of my all-time favorites - and I'm happy to say I wasn't wrong. Our Wayward Fate is about complex family ties as well as who we are individually, and is jam packed with a refreshing sense of humor that doesn't detract from the ways in which people of color can be isolated in a supposedly tight-knit town. Our Wayward Fate tells the story of Ali Chu, a Taiwanese-American teenager living in a suburban (white) community in Indiana. To fit in, Ali has to snuff out even the most minute indicators of her culture that set her apart from everyone else. She has to learn to ignore casual - and not so casual - racism and stay silent about the assumptions people make about her, including the pronunciation of her name, which is supposed to be Āh-lěe instead of Allie. Her tentatively peaceful existence is disrupted when Chase Yu arrives at her school, and people automatically push them together because they are both Taiwanese. As much as Ali and Chase try to ignore the way everyone else believes they belong together, they inexplicably form a bond over their shared culture and the inside jokes and comfort that come along with finally being able to be exactly who they are - Taiwanese pineapple cakes in the midst of dry toast. I can honestly say that no book has ever made me laugh as much as Our Wayward Fate. From the very beginning (literally, since that quote is the first line of the book), Gloria Chao's voice comes across strong and clear. This book was something I could only ever dream of coming to life, and holding it in my hands was enough to bring tears to my eyes. Gloria Chao embeds wit and sarcasm into Our Wayward Fate so seamlessly, while also tackling the significant amount of racism that Asian people face on a daily basis, even from people we consider friends. You can read my complete review of Our Wayward Fate here: https://loveyoshelf.wordpress.com/201...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Samantha (WLABB)

    Ali's mother had one rule for dating - he must be Asian. Being the only Asian kid in town, Ali was therefore, never going to be allowed to date. But, then, Chase showed up, and Ali wanted to resist her attraction to him. Would she be able to resist or would she give in to her wayward fate? • Pro: I was such an Ali fan. She was witty and snarky, and I especially loved when she was Ali to the Nth degree once Chase came along. • Pro: OMG, Chase! From his first on page with Ali, I was hooked. He grew Ali's mother had one rule for dating - he must be Asian. Being the only Asian kid in town, Ali was therefore, never going to be allowed to date. But, then, Chase showed up, and Ali wanted to resist her attraction to him. Would she be able to resist or would she give in to her wayward fate? • Pro: I was such an Ali fan. She was witty and snarky, and I especially loved when she was Ali to the Nth degree once Chase came along. • Pro: OMG, Chase! From his first on page with Ali, I was hooked. He grew up in such a different environment, and I liked that he challenged those around him, and encouraged Ali to speak up for herself. He was not only her love interest, but he was her ally. • Pro: Chao did an incredible job helping me understand Ali's feelings of isolation. It pained me, that Ali believed she had to give up or hide parts of herself to survive in her hometown. My heart ached for her, and I think that's why I was so elated once Chase became part of her world. • Pro: Though I did not initially understand the connection to The Butterfly Lovers, it because more clear as I learned what Ali's mother was hiding And, wow! I totally didn't see that coming. The story took quite a turn, and it was an interesting one. • Pro: Chao gave me what I needed with respect to Ali's family. They were super dysfunctional, and it was painful being in their home. Chao tempered it with some lovely flashbacks, and also some fabulous resolutions. I had a lot of hope for Ali, her mom, and her dad by the end of the story, and that's important to me. • Pro: This story takes on family dysfunction, racism, isolation, and the downside of family culture, but those who know me won't be surprised to learn it was the romance that stood out for me. Ali and Chase were fantastic together. The banter and feisty exchanges never failed to make me smile. They challenged each other so much, but they got gooey too, and it was fun to see someone like Ali sporting heart-eyes. Overall: Once again, Gloria Chao delivered a heartfelt and funny tale of east meets west, which featured a complex family dynamic and a really sweet romance. BLOG | INSTAGRAM |TWITTER | BLOGLOVIN | FRIEND ME ON GOODREADS

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany Chiang

    3.5/5! Full review to come.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Autumn

    y'all have no idea how much I wanted to like this book. not a fan.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kylee Jackson

    God, this was frustrating to read. I think this is going to be another review that'll be best in list format. Things I hated: -Ali is your stereotypical "not like other girls" "strong female character." Being trapped in her head for an entire novel was painful. -The pacing is bad. Just plain bad. -Yet another case of insta-love in Chao's books. I could tolerate it in AMERICAN PANDA because I actually liked the book, but here it was just painful to read. I skimmed any and all interactions between God, this was frustrating to read. I think this is going to be another review that'll be best in list format. Things I hated: -Ali is your stereotypical "not like other girls" "strong female character." Being trapped in her head for an entire novel was painful. -The pacing is bad. Just plain bad. -Yet another case of insta-love in Chao's books. I could tolerate it in AMERICAN PANDA because I actually liked the book, but here it was just painful to read. I skimmed any and all interactions between Chase and Ali after about the 20% mark because I cannot handle the fact they think they're soulmates after knowing each other for a week. -The plot is almost non-existent. Normally, I don't mind because character-driven novels can be really great, but I didn't like any of the characters so this didn't work for me. -The... plot twist, I guess... is a let down. Almost 90% of the book built up to this big secret Ali's mother was keeping from her, and when it was finally revealed, I was like "oh, that's it?" I can admit that maybe this is something that would impact Chinese readers more and I just don't understand it because of cultural differences, but it fell flat for me. -Ali is totally cool with her friends being racist af until Chase shows up to tell her that racism is wrong. I really wish I was joking. -There's just very little nuance or subtlety in this book. Everything is black and white (or Ali is right and everyone else is wrong, which is not annoying at all) and every message hits with the subtlety of a marching band. I'm fine with books with an underlying message of "racism is bad," and I actually think Chao was onto something here, but maybe instead of have every non-Chinese character be overtly racist, we can move to showing the little microaggressions that white people wouldn't necessarily pick up on as racist? I mean, Ali's friends literally say "ew," when Ali pronounces her name properly, and that is the tamest of the racism in this book. In a book seriously lacking in nuance, it would've been nice to have a little bit of subtlety and variability in the depictions of racism. -Along those lines, I cannot suspend reality enough to believe that Ali's family are the only people of color in their entire town, especially in a book set contemporaneously. The only Chinese, or even Asian, family? Sure, that's believable. But you mean to tell me that there isn't a single Black person in town? No Latinxs? I know Indiana is very white, and I don't have a problem believing that Ali's town is almost-exclusively white. But that the Chu family are the only people of color, when the Asian population of Indiana is smaller than all other races besides Native American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander is a stretch that I am not generous enough to make for this book. -The writing itself really let me down. I expected more from Chao, because I loved her previous book, but this really missed the mark for me in so many ways. Things I liked: -The integration of the story of the Butterfly Lovers. Was it fully integrated into the narrative? Not so much, despite Chao's effort to make Ali a descendant of one of the lovers, but I didn't really mind it. It was a refreshing break from the drudgery that was reading through Ali's point of view. -I did like Yun, despite Chao's best efforts to make me not like Yun. I'm glad to be done with this one. 3/10 would recommend.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nicole

    Ali Chu is the only Asian person in her middle-of-nowhere Indiana high school until Chase Yu arrives being the new kid. Ali gravitates toward Chase because she finds out he is also Chinese American and Taiwanese. They bond over similar traditions, food, culture and language. It's her way of connecting with her true identity. No longer will she have to wear a façade pretending to be someone she is not. She is not Allie, but Ali like the mountain in Taiwan. She doesn't have to pretend she likes Ali Chu is the only Asian person in her middle-of-nowhere Indiana high school until Chase Yu arrives being the new kid. Ali gravitates toward Chase because she finds out he is also Chinese American and Taiwanese. They bond over similar traditions, food, culture and language. It's her way of connecting with her true identity. No longer will she have to wear a façade pretending to be someone she is not. She is not Allie, but Ali like the mountain in Taiwan. She doesn't have to pretend she likes eating those horrible PB&J sandwiches just to fit in. Although Ali and Chase become more than friends after awhile her parents don't want Ali and Chase to be together even though they are both Chinese. Both families hide secrets from their children regarding their history or their plans for their children. The families are saving face. They want better for their children. Ali discovers what her mother has been hiding from her when she journeys to China. Her mother wants to carve a better path for Ali because Ali's mother did not find happiness for most of her life. Ali's mother lives in regret and doesn't want Ali to live a life of regrets as well. Ali and Chase make a cute couple. Both are sarcastic in their own way and they get each other. With their Chu and Yu puns, it keeps me laughing throughout the whole novel. Gloria Chao writes books about her history and origin but she also writes for her readers who can relate to what she goes through. With American Panda, she writes about family expectations with a prestigious college and going into medicine when in fact Chinese folk dance is her passion. In Our Wayward Fate is touches upon how Kung Fu is something she wants to pursue. She fights the patriarchy with her main characters. Ali fights sexism. She does things that men can do. Chao delves more into cultural identity in Our Wayward Fate compared to American Panda. Chao weaves the Chinese folktale of the Butterfly Lovers, Zhu Yingtai and Liang Shanbo, within Our Wayward Fate to connect Ali to China. The park dedicated to the lovers is the only reason why Ali agreed to go to China and to appease her parents, especially her mother. At first, the excerpts of the Butterfly Lovers halted the flow of the book but it made sense later why the excerpts were inserted within random chapters. Our Wayward Fate is one of the most relatable books for me. Even though my family is not Mandarin speaking, I can picture myself being in Ali's shoes being an Asian American in a sea of White people. I can understand how she feels when microaggressions are thrown at her. The writing resonated with me. I grew up in Boston, just like Ali did before she moved to Indiana. However, I ended up attending public school from 4th grade to 12th grade in a very affluent and very White suburban town west of Boston. Chao navigates how Ali approaches her cultural, racial and family identities. Who is Ali? How did she learn to appreciate her Chinese heritage and to become the real Ali. What made her shed her feeling of impostorism and trying to fit in with her peers. Instead of blending in with everyone else at her school, she steps up and owns her heritage. A turning point is when Ali tells her friends that her name is Ali and not Allie. She becomes empowered to embrace who she truly is. Our Wayward Fate has a feminist approach while exploring racial and cultural identity. Our Wayward Fate is a coming-of-age novel that is important and needed in our society. Check out this fantastic #OwnVoices novel.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Ali Chu is a 17-year-old Taiwanese-American living in Zero Diversity, Indiana. While struggling to deal with both microagressions and overt racism, she also has to struggle with her non-communicative parents and overbearing mother. I think there's a lot to really enjoy in the book. Ali's struggle with her parents is understandable and well written. Her mom is written to be excruciatingly overbearing and the filial piety that's demanded makes my eyeballs roll out of my head. But I've seen it with Ali Chu is a 17-year-old Taiwanese-American living in Zero Diversity, Indiana. While struggling to deal with both microagressions and overt racism, she also has to struggle with her non-communicative parents and overbearing mother. I think there's a lot to really enjoy in the book. Ali's struggle with her parents is understandable and well written. Her mom is written to be excruciatingly overbearing and the filial piety that's demanded makes my eyeballs roll out of my head. But I've seen it with Aunties and Uncles and it's very believable. The microagressions that Ali deals with on a day to day basis is relatable to every single Asian-American living in America, as is the feeling of being too Asian to be American but too American to be Asian. That hits home and hits hard. The wet hair thing made me laugh. Asian parents are obsessed with wet hair and how it'll basically cause death. But I do think the overall execution of the book needed work. Ali and Chase's relationship came off very instalovey. Their kiss came within days of meeting. What seemed to bring them together didn't seem to be much more than the fact that they were both Asian Americans going to Lack of Diversity High School. They bonded over things eating and liking Taiwanese food, speaking Mandarin, doing kung fu, and being the only Asian Americans there. It very much seems to confirm the thoughts of the racist AF classmates, that they were perfect for each other because they're both the same kind of Asian. There was no natural progression or real understanding as to why they wanted to get together aside from the fact that they're so similar in the most Asian ways. It's very strange and offputting how into each other they get with very little to show how or why. I do think that to some degree, it came off like Ali was so happy that someone like her had finally come to town that she felt that those few tenuous similarities were enough to bond them. I very much wish that she would have had a realization that a relationship needs more and they could have been good friends and she could have met someone else in college. But that's not what happened. Another part of the problem is that Chase as a character doesn't really get much exploration. We have his deep dark family secret (which isn't much of a secret) but not much else. While Ali as a character is better developed, the growth she seems to have from beginning to end seems like we've missed something. That we should have seen more on how she went from point A to point Z. There's another story involving a family friend, Yun. And this helps tie in to the Butterfly Lovers legend that is interspersed every few chapters. But the execution for Yun's eventual outing was incredibly poorly executed and lacked any sort of delicacy needed to write a Chinese-American boy coming out to his very traditional Chinese father. The entire last act of the book didn't feel earned. And the introduction of the Uncle character could have been used for so much more than just adding to the family history. Nerd complaint. Both Ali and Chase are taking 6 APs, but they seem to spend very little time doing any actual school work. I want to say the most APs I took in one year was 5 but it might have been 4, all of high school is really one big blur. But the point is, I don't think there was a night I was in bed before midnight because of all the homework, studying, extracurriculars, and AIM. Outlining things for the podcast still gives me AP American flashbacks. I think that what really put me off this book was that the book was often telling me things instead of showing me things. And the things it was telling me were extraordinarily superficial. 3.25/5 rounds to 3/5.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Hannah’s Library

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I really, really, really wanted to love this book as much as I loved American Panda but alas that was not the case. Here is my main issue: With American Panda, the plot was clear and easy to follow. With Our Wayward Fate, this was less true. We have the plot line of Ali meeting Chase, and Ali’s mom forbidding their relationship without explaining why; we have all of the secrets Ali’s mom has been hiding for years surrounding Ali’s future, including the trip to China she insists Ali takes; then I really, really, really wanted to love this book as much as I loved American Panda but alas that was not the case. Here is my main issue: With American Panda, the plot was clear and easy to follow. With Our Wayward Fate, this was less true. We have the plot line of Ali meeting Chase, and Ali’s mom forbidding their relationship without explaining why; we have all of the secrets Ali’s mom has been hiding for years surrounding Ali’s future, including the trip to China she insists Ali takes; then we have her great uncle showing up out of the blue; and mixed in between all of this is the ancient Chinese story of The Butterfly Lovers which has been amended for the sake of this specific story. All of this was great, but it it didn’t feel tied together. What would have made it better? I’m glad you asked. I would have loved to see something like this: Chase turns out to be a boy who was also featured at the matchmaking park but whom Ali’s mom vehemently opposed due to his family ties, but Ali and Chase somehow meet anyway and their family’s want to keep them apart, which is why her great-uncle arrives to convince everyone that they actually are a perfect match despite their family histories. That was pretty much what I was expecting from the moment Ali’s mom forbade her from seeing Chase and yet, Chase ended up not really having anything to do with the story except he was just there and was yet another thing Ali and her mom would fight about. I don't want to say this book was disappointing, but there was so much potential and the execution seemed off. My full review is here: https://hannahslibrary.com/2019/10/23...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Shaye Miller

    Seventeen-year-old Ali Chu has worked hard to blend in at her "white" school in Indiana. In fact, she's repeatedly ignored racist comments and laughed things off as no big deal. But when a new boy comes to her school, another Taiwanese American student named Chase, it quickly becomes apparent that she cannot continue to stand by and say nothing. Throughout this story, Ali finds herself being defined by others and confined to relationships she has no choice in. And this is where the larger part Seventeen-year-old Ali Chu has worked hard to blend in at her "white" school in Indiana. In fact, she's repeatedly ignored racist comments and laughed things off as no big deal. But when a new boy comes to her school, another Taiwanese American student named Chase, it quickly becomes apparent that she cannot continue to stand by and say nothing. Throughout this story, Ali finds herself being defined by others and confined to relationships she has no choice in. And this is where the larger part of the story dwells as Ali must take a stand on multiple fronts. Over time, she becomes stronger and finds ways to stay up for herself at school, at home, and even as she travels abroad. There is a romance part in this story as well as chapters from an ancient folktale woven between the modern tale, but it was the history and the mystery that drew me into this one. I also appreciate a YA story where parents can be seen as humans and where family dynamics are challenged and slowly become more hopeful. For more children's literature, middle grade literature, and YA literature reviews, feel free to visit my personal blog at The Miller Memo!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bickering Book Reviews

    For a more in-depth review watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5SfZ... Gloria Chao is writing books that allow teens to see themslves in books who may not normally see themselves and this book’s strong characters are perfect. However the plot didn’t quite work and the story felt like several other books cobbled together. We received eARCs of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    michelle (magical reads)

    3.5 stars heartfelt story

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lais

    this would've been a lot more enjoyable without the insta-love.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Karis Rogerson

    3.5/5 stars

  27. 5 out of 5

    Audrey

    3.5 Stars. Ali is the lone Asian in her small Indiana town. When Chase, another Chinese American boy, moves there, all her white classmates assume they will become a couple. Despite trying to avoid each other, the two bond over the commonalities and Ali begins to fight back against all the overt racism and micro aggressions she’s endured over the years. But Ali’s mom is determined to separate them and Ali learns a lot more about her family’s secrets. Overall, I enjoyed the read but it was 3.5 Stars. Ali is the lone Asian in her small Indiana town. When Chase, another Chinese American boy, moves there, all her white classmates assume they will become a couple. Despite trying to avoid each other, the two bond over the commonalities and Ali begins to fight back against all the overt racism and micro aggressions she’s endured over the years. But Ali’s mom is determined to separate them and Ali learns a lot more about her family’s secrets. Overall, I enjoyed the read but it was slightly uneven. The school parts were especially strong as were the characters’ personalities. But a lot of it felt rushed and condensed, the quick attraction and romance, the conflict bw Ali and Chase, as well as the friendship bw Ali and Yun. But I loved many of the Ali/Chase scenes, especially the sparring and the banter. And seriously, what is it with chinese mothers and sleeping with wet hair? I received an arc from the publisher but all opinions are my own.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    3/20/19 Giving this author a second try. 10/14/19 3.5...I think the ending is honestly what slightly bumped up my rating. At times, I wonder if I am subconsciously being unfairly harsh? I am aware that AA experiences are vast and difference so I did keep that in mind while I was reading this and her debut novel. Our Wayward Fate is slightly better than American Panda in the sense that it wasn't worse...less cringy for sure. The author's concept is strong (and much needed), but the execution and 3/20/19 Giving this author a second try. 10/14/19 3.5...I think the ending is honestly what slightly bumped up my rating. At times, I wonder if I am subconsciously being unfairly harsh? I am aware that AA experiences are vast and difference so I did keep that in mind while I was reading this and her debut novel. Our Wayward Fate is slightly better than American Panda in the sense that it wasn't worse...less cringy for sure. The author's concept is strong (and much needed), but the execution and storytelling is not and that's why the book lags and also struggles to reach its full potential. I appreciated and enjoyed the Chinese/Taiwanese culture as well as the culture + generation gap. When I saw little niche experiences/behaviors that I also experienced, it made me happy and seen. Like chewing gum during takeoff and landing though I don't think that is a Chinese thing. Not sleeping with wet hair, yeah. (But why would you??? Asian or not, lol) But being the only girl in a Kung Fu class? Yes! I can't relate to what it is like to grow up in a place where people don't look like you and where everyone is White. I wanted to understand (before the fallout and rejection) why Ali stayed with her White friends. I wasn't looking for a humanization (because fuck racists, I don't care how "nice" you are), but it was so easy for both Ali and her friends to break up with one another. I assumed it was a survival technique since they were the "passive" racists. Also fuck her White friends for CONTINUING to be racist towards her and then asking her if they could forget about it and be friends again. Go choke. I am going to try not to compare this novel to American Panda, but the romance here between Ali and Chase was sweet, but lacked chemistry. They bond over being the only Asian kids in the school and town. The kiss happens way toooooo early. I hate it when authors make characters do something OOC, covering it up with the character saying "I don't know what came over me, but...". I think they would have been better off as platonic friends—the relationship would have been stronger at least. I had a hard time reading the parts where Ali's mom was so rude and insulting to her husband. I also did understand where Ali's mom was coming from with the "Everything I do is for you. I want the best for you." etc. Also, her BoGong just coming out of nowhere in the story and amongst other things that just pops in was weird? I wish things weren't so black and white with the culture and generational gap here. Ali's mom could stand to take many chill pills though. Without spoiling anything, the park and matchmaking...I get Ali's perspective..but I saw a CBS Sunday Morning video about this tradition and while I wouldn't want myself to be involved...I wish Ali understood the cultural importance of it especially since she very much loves being unapologetically Taiwanese. Because the characters are all so guarded and secretive, a lot of information is withheld and I wasn't annoyed with that. I just didn't know where the direction of the story was heading towards. It was unexpected, but not like a good twist, more like I was being led blindly. Chao explains the reason why she didn't include a glossary for the pinyin in the novel and while for some you can infer, others not so much. A footnote would have sufficed as well. All to say that the lack of a translation was a distraction because I was like translating it and stuff. I was able to make out maybe 40-50% of the words, but I was curious to know more. Maybe that's just me since I am Chinese and would like to be better at Mandarin. Perhaps for others, they might have glossed over the pinyin. Mentions of acne and body hair is a plus for me. It's rare to see that in a YA book. Everything came together in the end and eventually makes sense, but it's as if we made so many unnecessary turns and stops along the way.

  29. 4 out of 5

    faith ✨

    I didn't realize Gloria Chao had a book coming out this year until now, but as I'm aware of this atm, "I need this" is a major understatement

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nasty Lady MJ

    Illy paced and just bad. The racism the character experiences is pretty horrific, had this been pre MAGA era I might've viewed it as OTT. However, unfortunately its not. What did bother me was that only overt racism was shown I would've liked more micro-aggressions to be addressed. The romance was also lackluster probably due to being illy paced. I also thought the family mystery was just way too cryptic to the point I didn't care. Full review to come maybe. Just not a fan.

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