Destinee’s YA Book Recommendations

Volunteer blogger Destinee McGhee returns with an eclectic selection of books to review for BookSpring! In honor of Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month, we recommend these titles featuring stories of tailors, journalists, and athletes. See below for Destinee’s reviews!

Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Maia Tamarin is arguably the most talented tailor along The Great Spice, but because she’s a girl, she isn’t allowed to become a tailor like her renowned ailing father. Desperate to make ends meet after war fractures her family and community, Maia begins to wonder if she must abandon her true passion for sewing to marry for financial security. Everything changes when the Summer Court issues a royal summons to Maia’s father to become the imperial tailor. Instead of sending her father to court, Maia decides to go in his place disguised as a boy to participate in this opportunity of a lifetime. This opportunity is not all it seems to be as Maia soon discovers she is one of twelve tailors vying for the coveted position. As the tasks become more difficult and the competition more treacherous, Maia becomes more determined than ever to secure her future and conceal her true identity. The final task seems impossible but must be done. Sew three dresses for the emperor’s bride-to-be utilizing three distinct elements; the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of the stars.

The Downstairs Girl The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

17-year old Chinese – American, Jo Kuan may be virtually unseen by the 1890s Atlanta society but Miss Sweetie is slowly becoming that latest talk of the town. Miss Sweetie is the pseudonym Jo uses when she begins to secretly write a newspaper advice column to address the existing racism, sexism, and various prejudices, going on in the Deep South. Soon the column begins to pick up traction and is met with both praise and backlash which soon leads to Jo becoming fearful of being found out. It doesn’t help that Jo is also a maid for the cruel daughter of one of Atlanta’s richest families. After discovering a mysterious letter that may answer the truth about her past, Jo begins to question whether she should let Miss Sweetie come out of hiding once and for all.


  There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon

Sweetie Nair can’t help but wear many hats. As the second-fastest track athlete in the state of California, she’s not only a standout on the field but also has a fantastic singing voice and a great group of gal pals. But according to her mother, the only thing that would improve Sweetie’s life would be if she wasn’t plus size. Over her mother’s expectations about her weight, Sweetie begins what she dubs “The Sassy Sweetie Project” in order to step out of her comfort zone and be bolder than ever before. Now, she can finally give the world something worth discussing. Ashish Patel can’t help but feel down in the dumps. After his first serious girlfriend ends their relationship, he begins to doubt himself and if he’ll ever truly move on. Even his zest for basketball begins to dampen as his high school team continues to rise in the ranks. Over feeling sorry for himself and his waning charm with the ladies, he takes up his parent’s offer of finding him a girl that will be a great match for him. Now, he can finally show his parents they are way in over their heads. As Sweetie works through her effort to decide what her narrative is within a fatphobic society and Ashish begins to explore his true feelings on relationships and emotional intimacy, the two begin to question what is truly fact or fiction. But one thing seems to be true – Sweetie and Ashish can’t help the way they feel about each other.

Destinee’s YA Book Recommendations
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Destinee’s YA Book Recommendations

time to read | tiempo para leer 3 min