This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase using that link, a small commission is made from the sale. There are no additional costs to you. Thank you for your support!Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao
Other Books: American Panda
Published by Simon Pulse on October 15, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Format: ARC, eBook
A teen outcast is simultaneously swept up in a whirlwind romance and down a rabbit hole of dark family secrets when another Taiwanese family moves to her small, predominantly white midwestern town in this remarkable new novel from the critically acclaimed author of American Panda, which The Wall Street Journal called “weepingly funny.”
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, Ah-lee, 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.
The author/publisher provided a free copy of the book for review purposes - thank you! Receiving a review copy does not guarantee a positive review and therefore do not affect the opinion or content of the review.
I adored American Panda back in 2018, so when I heard Gloria Chao was releasing a new book, I pretty much slid Our Wayward Fate onto my TBR with no questions asked. (I enjoyed American Panda enough that I got my own copy… only to have my mom “borrow” it. She still hasn’t returned it.)
Gloria Chao is a Queen of Writing Relatable Characters and it continues with her second novel, Our Wayward Fate.
Chao’s latest novel follows Ali Chu, a high school senior living in Indiana and is the only Asian kid in her school; for years, she operates in survival mode in order to blend in with the rest of her classmates, even if she hates dealing with the constant racist stereotypes that are automatically associated with her simply because she’s Asian. But she continues to remain silent until she finds out the new kid in school, Chase Yu, is also Taiwanese like her.
Let me take a moment to talk about their relationship!!!
- Puns, puns, so many puns.
- Jokes and wordplay in Mandarin (also I really loved how Chao didn’t incorporate a glossary so readers can get what it’s like to be someone learning a language through conversation and context).
- They’re just so cute and competitive together; ugh, my heart can’t.
Friends, I saw myself in American Panda, but I also really saw myself in Our Wayward Fate.
Chao touches on a lot of experiences that I personally went through; it’s a book that I would have loved to read back in middle and high school when I occasionally felt like I was alone in my experiences. Much of the experiences Ali goes through hit hardcore emotionally and I really, really wanted to reach through the book just to give Ali a hug. (Here I thought I related to Mei a lot and Ali Chu comes in and knocks it out of the park.)
Chao’s latest novel deals with darker topics while also incorporating her signature humor.
I love puns, so I’m a little biased toward them. While Our Wayward Fate is chock full of puns (I love them) and incorporates Chao’s signature humor from her debut, it also has a darker feel. Our Wayward Fate is a book with family and identity with a retelling of The Butterfly Lovers; it also focuses a lot about miscommunication when we struggle or are unsure when communicating with others.