Each May, Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month is a time for readers to celebrate the truly remarkable progress we’ve made in just a few decades in the number and variety of young adult books available; the growth of excellent science fiction, fantasy, and romance centering on Asian American characters is especially noteworthy. Yet these books still too narrowly focus on characters of East and South Asian heritage. We desperately need more books about Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, as well as ones featuring characters with roots elsewhere on the Asian continent.

Readers also have a strong need for more nonfiction, given how little many of us know about the diversity of Asian/Pacific American communities—some vastly more disadvantaged than others—and these groups’ persistent erasure from many social justice conversations and school curricula. Two new titles help to fill in some of the gaps, expand our understanding, and push back against overly simplistic narratives.

Ruth Asawa: An Artist Takes Shape, written and illustrated by Sam Nakahira (Getty Publications, March 19): Acclaimed sculptor Asawa is the subject of this delicately drawn, deeply absorbing graphic novel that will expand readers’ awareness of her achievements as well as the obstacles many Japanese Americans faced following their incarceration during World War II. Asawa’s provocative artistic education at North Carolina’s experimental Black Mountain College is just one highlight.

Rising From the Ashes: Los Angeles, 1992. Edward Jae Song Lee, Latasha Harlins, Rodney King, and a City on Fire, by Paula Yoo (Norton Young Readers, May 7): The aftermath of the violent protests (which largely affected L.A.’s Koreatown) following the 1992 acquittal of the police officers who beat Black motorist Rodney King still echoes painfully three decades later. Yoo’s exhaustive research, panoramic presentation of the events, and use of interviews that humanize everyone affected all make this a must-read.

Three realistic fiction titles highlight a diverse set of young people and their experiences, showing readers some of the many different ways to be a contemporary Asian American teen.

Just Another Epic Love Poem, by Parisa Akhbari (Dial Books, March 12): Queer Iranian American Mitra often hides to protect herself. Her mother’s struggles with addictive painkillers have torn the family apart, and Mitra is in love with her best friend (and terrified of losing that bond). Poems, both Persian classics and contemporary works, are her lifeline in this memorable, heartfelt coming-of-age story.

What’s Eating Jackie Oh?, by Patricia Park (Crown, April 30): Korean American Jackie is passionate about classical French cooking, but when she’s chosen for a TV cooking competition, she realizes the producers can’t see past her ethnicity. In this thoughtful, compassionate story, family members love one another but still make mistakes, including Jackie’s worried parents and her brother, who’s in prison.

This Book Won’t Burn, by Samira Ahmed (Little, Brown, May 7): Noor is a Muslim, Indian American senior recently transplanted to a small Midwestern town. She’s desperate to graduate and move on, but she can’t keep silent about a recent spate of book bannings. As her school librarian puts it in this provocative and timely novel, “Hope is an act, not just a feeling.”

Laura Simeon is a young readers’ editor.