When You Wish Upon a Lantern

Viking. Feb. 2023. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593464359.
Gr 7 Up–Liya’s and Kai’s families own stores next to each other in Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood, but their fathers are in a feud over the shared alley and dumpster. Liya and Kai used to be best friends who both secretly wished for something more, until an epic misunderstanding ended in Liya throwing up all over him. When Liya discovers her family’s wishing lantern store’s financial problems, she extends the olive branch so Kai can use his baking skills to help her make wishes come true—something she used to do with her late Năinai. Parental expectations, sibling rivalry, grief over Năinai’s passing, self-discovery, and blooming love make this a summer to remember as Kai and Liya help out their community (including an adorable subplot where they play matchmaker for elderly neighbors). Told in alternating chapters, Chao’s narrative has Kai and Liya both face distinct issues with their families and their plans for the future, and they remain supportive friends even as they sort out their tangled romantic feelings. In addition to loving each other, their love for their community is palpable and refreshing, grounding this tale in a strong sense of place.
VERDICT A delicious story of best friends falling in love that belongs in most collections.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing