Raise Your Voice 2016 with Maurene Goo

Raise Your Voice is a special annual month-long series on Pop! Goes The Reader whose purpose is to celebrate diversity and inclusivity in literature, with a particular emphasis on #OwnVoices stories. In it, authors recommend books with sensitive, positive and accurate representation that will help to create a resource of diverse books that marginalized readers can turn to when they need them most. Your voice matters. Raise it! For a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates, click here.

About Maurene Goo

Maurene Goo grew up in a Los Angeles suburb surrounded by floral wallpaper and piles of books. She studied communication at UC San Diego and later receiveda master’s in publishing, writing, and literature at Emerson College. Before publishing her first book, Since You Asked, she worked in both textbook and art book publishing. She has very strong feelings about tacos and houseplants. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two cats — one weird, one normal.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreads

(You can add Little & Lion to your Goodreads shelves Here!)

I love my city of Los Angeles.

Like many of you, I grew up reading a lot. Like a lot. And almost all the books took place in places like New York City or towns on the east coast. That’s why I know WASPy names for clothing like “Top Siders,” why I decided to go to grad school in Boston — to experience that ephemeral wonder that is “Autumn.”

Now, as an author, I try to rep my home turf of Southern California hard. Yes, every hipster show about 30-somethings now takes place here, but I think the YA world still needs a generous dash of So Cal love. Not only because we are the land of perpetual sunshine and good vibes, but because the diversity here needs to be bottled up and shared with all.

LA, in particular, is a giant overlap of all the different cultures that exist here — the immigrants from Asia, central America, and the middle east; the black, Latino, and Jewish communities that have been here for decades. It’s not the beaches or movie industry that make LA unique — it’s often the rich messiness of all these cultures co-existing.

A book that perfectly encapsulates Los Angeles in all its layers and complexities is Brandy Colbert’s upcoming Little & Lion. Anyone who has read Colbert’s debut novel, Pointe, knows that she handles multitudes with a deft, graceful hand. It’s no different in her second YA novel. Little & Lion follows Suzette, a black Jewish sixteen-year-old, during her summer back home in Los Angeles. After spending a year at boarding school, Suzette’s eager to come home and spend time with her brother Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Yes, Colbert’s rendering of my native Los Angeles is spot-on (the east-side neighborhoods, the relentless heat of the summer), but it’s her representation of various forms of marginalization that makes this coming-of-age story such a gem. That probably sounds clinical AF, but it’s just true. She sensitively navigates Suzette’s understanding of her sexuality, her brother’s bipolar disorder, and her identity as a black Jewish teen. On top of all that, Suzette’s got a diverse group of friends which includes a lesbian BFF and a childhood pal who is half Korean and half Black (and fully hot).

It’s kind of amazing. Because I can’t even imagine having had a book like this to read when I was growing up. Sure, my reality was much closer to the world in Little & Lion than in the hundreds of books I read as a kid—but my life was also so much more sheltered and narrow than this incredibly rich world that Colbert has written. Books as mirrors and windows? Yeah, it’s necessary. And I’m so glad voices like Colbert’s exist for the lucky readers of today.

Title I Believe In A Thing Called Love
Author Maurene Goo
Pages 336 pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords Contemporary, Romance
To Be Published May 30th, 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

Desi Lee knows how carburetors work. She learned CPR at the age of five. As a high school senior, she has never missed a day of school and has never had a B in her entire life. She’s for sure going to Stanford. But — she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation-magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds her answer in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Rules For True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos — and boat rescues, love triangles, and fake car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.

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