A Taiwanese American girl in the Midwest embarks on a series of relationships with boys in pursuit of a life of her own choosing.
June Chu longs to be an ordinary teenager, but it’s hard when her mother constantly makes her feel like nothing she does—not even scoring 100% on a calculus test—is good enough. Instead, she’s always comparing her to Wendy, her valedictorian older sister. June’s father is a peripheral figure—rarely present and deferring to her mom on parenting. But June, who describes herself as “just a realist who knows that I live at riiiight about the third-place level,” is determined to carve out her own senior year path, one more relaxed than Wendy’s was. She wants to have a boyfriend, to apply to colleges of her own choosing, and to stop feeling guilty if she’s not spending every spare minute studying or practicing violin. But as June carries out “Mission: Boyfriend” and takes steps toward the autonomy she’s been longing for, she realizes that the rigid assumptions she’s held about her mother and Wendy have ultimately kept her from defining—and going after—what she really wants. The panoply of supporting characters in this story that explores sexuality, gender roles, and relationships is finely drawn, and June is a winning protagonist with a lively, appealing voice that renders the repartee between her and her flinty, anxious mother simultaneously infuriating, hilarious, and poignant.
A fresh tale about a teen’s struggles to define herself.(author’s note) (Fiction. 14-18)