Chinese & Chinese-American YA

By Nikki Palazzo

The theme of the 2017 Coming Together in Skokie and Niles Township program is Celebrating Chinese Culture. With that in mind, I have put together a list of titles for young adults. These novels feature Chinese and Chinese-American characters, authors, and themes. There's something here for readers of every genre; from historical fiction to dystopian, realistic fiction to folklore. The titles are ordered from youngest intended audience (early middle school) to oldest (late high school).

  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

    2009 by Grace Lin

    This was an easy pick. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is one of the featured books for the 2017 Coming Together program. Even if it wasn't I'd be including it because it's one of the most enchanting books I've ever read. Grace Lin blends traditional Chinese folklore with an original storyline that's as captivating as the intricate artwork gracing its pages.

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  • Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier

    2014 by Ying Chang Compestine

    This coming-of-age adventure story set in 1970s Maoist China is accompanied by historical photographs. It's a real page-turner—or I guess I should say it's a real next-page-clicker since it's only available as an eBook. Take advantage of the format and zoom in on these cool old pictures.

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  • Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time

    2005 by Lisa Yee

    Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time is a companion novel to Millicent Min, Girl Genius. Millicent and Stanford are total enemies, so fans of Millicent will appreciate this peek behind Stanford's exterior. Don't worry, you don't need to have read one book to enjoy the other. This book won the Chinese American Librarians Association award for Best New Book in 2006 and it's still a fan favorite.

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  • Legend

    2011 by Marie Lu

    Fans of The Hunger Games will love the Legend series. In this first book, a dystopian United States has become a war-hungry nation called The Republic. When a daughter of the inner circle of The Republic and the nation's biggest outlaw are brought together by a high-profile death, they discover things about their government and society they never imagined.

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  • Learning To Fly

    2008 by Yee, Paul

    This book tells the story of Jason, a 17-year-old immigrant from China who falls in with the wrong crowd. It's an exciting, fast-paced story that will keep readers engaged to the very end. The quick dialogue and gripping, relatable story make for great reading.

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  • American Born Chinese

    2006 by Gene Luen Yang

    Want three stories for the price of one? American Born Chinese is the book for you. It's a graphic novel that weaves together the stories of Jin Wang, Chin-Kee, and the Monkey King. This winner of the prestigious Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature is also a featured book in the 2017 Coming Together program. It deserves all the praise it gets!

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  • Adaptation

    2012 by Malinda Lo

    Mix together aliens, UFOs, bird traffic accidents, shady military-lead medical experiments, and a bi-sexual love triangle, and you've got Adaptation. This book is the first in a series by Malinda Lo, who is perhaps best known for her novel Ash, a lesbian retelling of Cinderella. Lo's books are always highly original and creative. Adaptation is no exception.

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  • Conviction

    2015 by Kelly Loy Gilbert

    Braden's dad is a sports enthusiast, a Christian radio host, and—a murderer? When Braden is called on to testify in his dad's highly publicized trial, his complicated life gets even more complex. If you like crime shows and thrillers, you'll love this book. Bonus points for incorporating a ton of fantastic metaphors about baseball and life.

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  • Girl in Translation

    2010 by Jean Kwok

    Teens and adults love this book which makes it perfect for multi-generation reading groups. The story details Kimberly Chang's experiences immigrating to Brooklyn from Hong Kong. Not only does she bridge two cultures and two languages, she leads two separate lives; going to school during the day and working in a factory at night. Girl in Translation is a gripping tale of the Chinese-American experience that speaks broad truths about immigration, education, and love.

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