12 YA Titles Publishing in 2022 That Feature Asian American Protagonists

These 12 titles featuring Asian American protagonists will warm readers' hearts, spark their imaginations, and reflect their lived realities. All publish in 2022.

Even though 2021 was challenging for many Asian Americans, a dazzling crop of YA books featuring Asian and Asian American life in all its beauty and complexity brightened the year.

In 2022, readers will find new books that will warm their hearts, spark their imaginations, and reflect their lived realities. Here are 12 exciting titles to add to the TBR pile this year.


ABTAHI, Olivia. Azar on Fire. Nancy Paulsen. Aug. 2022. ISBN 9780593109458.
Perfectly Parvin brought a fresh and humorous voice in charming, irrepressible Parvin Mohammadi, and Abtahi’s heartfelt sophomore effort, Azar on Fire, is sure to please. Music-loving 14-year-old Azar Rossi is intent on joining a local Battle of the Bands, but her vocal nodules make singing impossible. When she discovers heartthrob Eben’s singing talent, she hatches a plan to get a band together for a chance to shine on stage.

ALKAF, Hanna. Queen of the Tiles. S. & S./Salaam Reads. Apr. 2022. ISBN 9781534494558.
Competitive player Najwa Bakri faces her toughest challenge yet at a Scrabble tournament in Malaysia. Still healing from the death of her Scrabble champ best friend, Trina Low, Najwa realizes that things aren’t what they seem when Trina’s defunct social media becomes reactivated with enigmatic messages.

CHEE, Traci. A Thousand Steps Into Night. HarperCollins/Clarion. Mar. 2022. ISBN 9780358469988.
After her critically acclaimed historical novel We Are Not Free, Chee returns with a Japanese-influenced feminist fantasy set in a land of gods and monsters. Ordinary girl Miuko sets out on a life-changing adventure as she attempts to lift a curse placed upon her. Along the way, she discovers that returning to her ordinary life may not be what she wants after all.

DHILLON, Navdeep Singh. Sunny G's Series of Rash Decisions. Dial. Feb. 2022. ISBN 9780593109977.
In this fast-paced rom-com, Sunny commits to a series of bold and rash decisions after his brother’s death, including cutting his hair and removing his turban so he no longer looks like a Sikh. A wrench is thrown into his plans when Mindii Vang steals his notebook, leading to a night of romance and adventure. Amidst it all, Sunny must learn to deal with his grief and discover who he really is.

GAO, Laura. Messy Roots: A Graphic Memoir of a Wuhanese American. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Mar. 2022. ISBN 9780063067769.
Following her early life in Wuhan, China, and then her immigration to Texas, Gao’s graphic memoir depicts her coming-of-age as she negotiates what it means to be queer and Asian American, and attempts to reconcile her memories of Wuhan with the anti-Asian racism spurred on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Gao’s art is warm and vivid, offering moments both playful and tender.

HUR, June. The Red Palace. Feiwel & Friends. Jan. 2022. ISBN 9781250800558.
Set in 18th-century Korea, young palace nurse Hyeon investigates the gruesome murder of four women after someone close to her is named as suspect. Hyeon joins forces with police inspector Eojin, and their search for the truth leads them to places dark and dangerous in this dramatic historical thriller.


KUTUB, Naz. The Loophole. Bloomsbury. Jun. 2022. ISBN 9781547609352.
After being left by his boyfriend Farouk, Sy gets a second chance at love when he meets a mysterious girl who grants him three wishes. With her help—and a touch of magic—Sy searches for a way back to Farouk and a chance at true happiness.

LEE, Emery. Café Con Lychee. HarperCollins/Quill Tree. May 2022. ISBN 9780063210271.
Food, fun, and feelings are all served up in this delightful enemies-to-lovers romance. Theo’s family owns an Asian American café, while Gabi’s family owns a competing Puerto Rican bakery. But with a new rival on the horizon, Theo and Gabi discover romance simmering between them as they work together to save their families’ businesses.

LO, Malinda. A Scatter of Light. Dutton. Oct. 2022. ISBN 9780525555285.
After Last Night at the Telegraph Club’s stellar year (garnering the National Book Award, Printz honor, Stonewall YA Book Award, and Asian/Pacific American YA Literature Award), it’s no surprise that Lo’s upcoming 2022 companion novel is hotly anticipated. Aria Tang West experiences a queer sexual awakening in this coming-of-age novel set against the 2013 expansion of marriage equality by the U.S. Supreme Court.

MAFI, Tahereh. This Woven Kingdom. HarperCollins. Feb. 2022. ISBN 9780062972446.
Following A Very Large Expanse of Sea and last year’s An Emotion of Great Delight, Mafi returns this year with the first in a Persian mythology-inspired trilogy. Danger and intrigue abound in this beautiful epic fantasy, and a compelling romance between servant Alizeh and crown prince Kamran will leave readers eager for the next installment.

TAHIR, Sabaa. All My Rage. Razorbill. Mar. 2022. ISBN 9780593202340.
In a departure from her beloved "An Ember in the Ashes" fantasy series, Tahir turns to contemporary fiction to tell a heartbreaking story traversing geographical boundaries and familial generations. After an arranged marriage, Misbah leaves Pakistan to come to the United States, her story intertwining with the present, where close friends Salahudin and Noor navigate difficult issues—illness, alcoholism, grief, abuse, racism, and Islamophobia—as they pursue the “American Dream.”

TIAN, XiXi. This Place Is Still Beautiful. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Jun. 2022. ISBN 9780063086029.
Told through the perspective of sisters Annalie and Margaret Flanagan, this gripping debut follows the aftermath of a racist act of vandalism—a shocking slur is painted on their house. Biracial white and Chinese, Annalie and Margaret share little in common besides their heritage. But this racist act challenges everything they thought they knew about their family, their hometown, and themselves.

Crystal Chen is a teen librarian at The New York Public Library. She chaired YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens in 2020-21 and is currently a community admin for We Here (wehere.space). 

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