Heiress Apparently

Abrams/Amulet. (Daughters of the Dynasty). Dec. 2020. 304p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781419749964.
Gr 9 Up–Gemma Huang, a Chinese-American teen from Illinois, is taking a gap year after high school to pursue her dream of acting. Though she has been accepted to UCLA, she trades her academic studies for grueling auditions while living in Los Angeles with other aspiring actresses. When she lands a major role in a new movie adaptation of M. Butterfly, Gemma is thrilled, until she learns that the filming will take place in Beijing. Defying her parents’ lifelong ban on traveling to China, Gemma accepts the role and flies across the world. As she enters the luxurious circle of movie stars, Gemma encounters another unexpected jolt: meeting unknown relatives from her mother’s family. The secrets her parents had hidden from her all of her life start to unravel, and Gemma is forced to confront her family’s roots while struggling to remain loyal to her parents. This page-turning novel’s lighthearted tone, mixed with a thorough exploration of serious topics and romantic relationships, is reminiscent of Jenny Han’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. Ma successfully creates vivid settings in Los Angeles and China as she uncovers important issues facing Asian Americans, including family expectations, identity, sacrifice, and honor. Although some of the plot twists may seem far-fetched, they work within the confines of the playful and humorous vibe of the narrative.
VERDICT A worthy addition to all libraries, especially those seeking nuanced books with Asian American protagonists.

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