“Just because people don’t show every emotion they have in all caps all the time, doesn’t mean that they’re not feeling them, too.” – Maurene Goo, Throwback
That quote sums up Maurene Goo’s newest young adult book, Throwback. This is the story of a mother and daughter struggling to understand each other and the universe’s plan to force them to talk.
Samantha Kang is the daughter of a first-generation Asian American immigrant. Her mother, Priscilla Jo, is just so hard to relate to. Samantha understands that her mom had a rough time growing up, but come on, her own life is hard too. It doesn’t help matters that her mom has ridiculously high expectations for Samantha in high school.
Priscilla was a former high school cheerleader who subscribed to all of the high school cliches. Sam has no interest in doing anything cliched in school. Their differences come to a head after a family medical emergency leaves the two fighting, throwing barbed words at each other that hurt. Sam only wants to get away from her mom. Calling a rideshare service, Sam expects to go somewhere familiar. Instead she finds herself thrown way back in time.
Sam has landed in the 1990s. With a 17-year-old Priscilla.
Sam is shocked. She has no idea why she is here or how to get home. Stuck dealing with her teenage mother and her obsession with homecoming, Sam also has to deal with backward ’90s attitudes and equally as frustrating outdated technology. What Sam isn’t prepared for are the feelings that are growing for a football player named Jamie, who understands Sam without trying.
With no way to get out of the ’90s, Sam has to figure out why she was sent back. Priscilla must be part of the reason she’s here. The more time Sam spends with Priscilla, the more she realizes that everything she thought she knew about her mom may not be true. Traveling back in time and hanging out with teenage Priscilla may end up being a positive experience.
This title is also available as a Libby eBook and a Libby eAudiobook.
“I love you when you’re at your lowest just as much as at your best.” – In Limbo, Deb JJ Lee
TW for suicide and abuse.
Deb Lee’s powerful new memoir explores coming of age in New Jersey as a Korean-American teenager. Deb examines the Korean-American diaspora and mental illness as she mines her history for answers. Deb left Seoul to come to America with her family when she was only three years old. Ever since she arrived in the United States, she has been excruciatingly aware of her otherness. Her teachers couldn’t, and still can’t very well, pronounce her Korean name. Her English wasn’t perfect, she spoke Korean, but after some time, she slowly lost her Korean and spoke more and more English. Adjusting to the United States was difficult as her face and her eyes pointed her out as different. She felt wrong.
When Deb started high school, her life became harder. She started to feel increasing pressure at home, while dealing with high school changes. Her classes were more difficult than she expected, plus her friendships changed and ended. Deb struggles with finding a safe place to be herself, but luckily she has orchestra (even though that doesn’t last forever either). Her home life becomes increasingly chaotic as fights with her mom become more frequent, violent, and emotionally abusive. Deb has no idea what to do, feeling like she is stuck in limbo with nowhere to go and no one to turn to for help. Her mental health crashes, which results in a suicide attempt. Her healing process after is slow and methodical, but she is resilient, courageous, and willing to start the process. Art, self-care, and therapy help her start to understand herself and her heritage.
The artwork in this graphic memoir is amazing. Deb has drawn pages of evocative, grayscale artwork that give you the feel of memory. Some of their drawings are sharp while others are hazy, fuzzing out and fading to black. If you’re a fan of Tillie Walden, you will enjoy this art style. Deb worked on this for years before she finally was at a place where it was ready for the world. Their desire to wait makes this memoir feel polished and rewarding. This is a realistic depiction of a teen working through mental health experiences. Add in that this is a memoir and this is sure to be helpful to others.