Raise Your Voice 2016 with Stacey Lee

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 Stacey Lee

Stacey Lee is a fourth generation Chinese-American whose people came to California during the heydays of the cowboys. She believes she still has a bit of cowboy dust in her soul. A native of southern California, she graduated from UCLA then got her law degree at UC Davis King Hall. After practicing law in the Silicon Valley for several years, she finally took up the pen because she wanted the perks of being able to nap during the day, and it was easier than moving to Spain. She plays classical piano, raises children, and writes YA fiction.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreads

(You can add Kira-Kira to your Goodreads shelves Here!)

When Jen asked me to write about the first book I saw myself in, I had to think hard. And long. And even after mulling over the issue over the course of several walks (when I do my best thinking), I still couldn’t think of a book in which I truly saw myself. Sure, there was Five Chinese Brothers, by Claire Hutchet Bishop, illustrated by Kurt Wiese, in which I saw Chinese people. But these Chinese weren’t American, but from Ancient China, and though seven-year-old me was excited to see Chinese people in books, present-age me cringes at the stereotyped depictions of Chinese people in this story.

It wasn’t until my forties that I truly found my childhood self on the page. Cynthia Kadohata’s Newbery award winning Kira-Kira chronicles the friendship between two Japanese American sisters growing up in rural Georgia, and the despair when one sister becomes terminally ill. The story takes place in the 50’s, and the sisters are Japanese American, not Chinese American, but I so connected with the feeling of being a duck out of water. I grew up in a mostly white and Mexican community where at elementary school, the only two other Asians were my sisters. Like the protagonist of Kira-Kira, I relied on my sisters for friendship. I depended on them for identity and survival.

(You can add Millicent Min, Girl Genius to your Goodreads shelves Here!)

In Lisa Yee’s Millicent Min, Girl Genius, a highly intelligent, socially awkward 11 yo girl hides her ‘genius’ from her first friend. If it wasn’t obvious, I identified with Milli because of the genius aspect. Haha, right!!! Okay, I wasn’t a genius, but I fit the stereotype of a Chinese girl who studies hard, aces the exams, and shuns sports. Also, like Milli, who does not want to be seen with the other Chinese kid at her school, I felt keenly embarrassed when people kept trying to stick me with the only other Asian kid in my junior high school, because we ‘looked good together.’

But the most important reason I connected with this book was that Milli feels shame over her intellect, something she should be proud of. As a kid, I felt ashamed of being Chinese. It was embarrassing to look different than everyone else, with my ‘flat face’ and nonexistent nose bridge. If I had read this book as a kid, perhaps I would’ve seen that true friends love you for who you are, and that they celebrate your differences.

We live in a country that is nearly 40% diverse, yet our bookshelves don’t reflect this. As an author of color, I hope to change this travesty, one book at a time.

Title The Secret Of A Heart Note
Author Stacey Lee
Pages 384 Pages
Intended Target Audience Young Adult
Genre & Keywords
To Be Published December 27th, 2016 by Katherine Tegen Books
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChaptersThe Book Depository

An evocative novel about a teen aroma expert who uses her extrasensitive sense of smell to mix perfumes that help others fall in love while protecting her own heart at all costs

Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking — all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman’s son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn’t always a choice you can make.

At once hopeful, funny, and romantic, Stacey Lee’s The Secret Of A Heart Note is a richly evocative coming-of-age story that gives a fresh perspective on falling in love and finding one’s place in the world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge