Underrated Contemporary Book Recs
September has been a good month so far, I’ve read a list of fantastic contemporary books. All of them are diverse, and written by marginalized authors. Its sad to see, they’re quite underrated and not getting enough love. Somehow I hope this post will boost them. So if you want to diversify your reading list, you might want to add these books to your list!
- Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert. Written by Chinese American author. Conviction is an authentic, emotionally devastating story about abuse and faith. The abuse portrayal in this book is gut wrenching and spot on. Gilbert present in her plot and writing, how abuse massively affects someone in all these subtle and huge things.
- The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco: Written by Filipino and Philippines based author. This book is inspired by Japanese ghost story “Bancho Sarayashiki.” The story is narrated by Okiku as she follows the journey of Tarquin, the half Japanese boy “to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.” Most readers said they find it scary, but I read it in broad daylight so I suppose I escaped that horror effect. One of my favorite things about it though is that, it is flowery and lyrical, the Japanese culture is also embedded in the plot.
- Ink and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani: Written by Japanese American author, Ink and Ashes is a Mystery Thriller book. Starring by Japanese family. The story opened up when the narrator, Claire discovered his father was a member of the Yakuza (the Japanese mafia.) Like its premise, this book lived up to its title. It is heart pounding, bloody and it will keep you guessing. The Japanese culture is integrated into the plot. There is heavy emphasis on family and friendship dynamics, just how I like it. You can expect plenty of laughing and swooning. The only think I didn’t liked about it is the subtle “special girl” syndrome and the influx amount of testosterone. But overall, YOU SHOULD BE READING IT. I am smitten. Head over heels.
- Song of Summer by Laura Lee Anderson: This book has a fantastic disability representation. The protagonist, Carter is deaf and so is his entire family with the exception of her mom who is an ASL interpreter. They are very supportive and I love their interaction. Hands down. Song of Summer is genuinely cute, and adorable until the ending happened. This is something I want to be affront about because I assumed it is HEA. When I finished it, I felt I was conned. I’m all in for open ending, but I don’t agree with the author’s choice of direction for the ending. Even though this is the case, I am still recommending it.
- Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler: This book won’t be released until November, but I read a few days ago and its DEFINITELY worth checking out. We have a very diverse cast, an Indian and Asian - Jew side characters, a Mexican American protagonist, Victoria Reyes, who is fluent in ASL (because her mother is deaf.) Reagan Forrester who lives in the trailer park, who wanted a way out of her town. Aside from that glaring importance of this story. Adler also brought a lot of relevant topics, we haven’t seen much in YA. I’ll try to sum it up, though I’m sure I’ll forget a handful of details. Disability, poverty, positive sex discussion about unprotected sex, oral sex, consent, feminism, abuse and more. It sounds very daunting and it’s just natural to think how could a “plethora of SJ"could fit in a limited page count. But honestly speaking, Just Visiting stays very true. Its a reflection of the world we live in. There is diversity within diversity. And its a damn shame, books like these have a difficult time getting published, if not a very small amount of people pays attention to them.
- Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan: This book speaks for its title. Its about a Singaporean Chinese family who is ridiculously rich. They live off lavishly. It is outrageously fun and it gives you a close glimpse about their food obsessed culture, keeping the bloodline and legacy pure, old money and new money - classicism. It was also discussed the racial tension between Mainland Chinese and Overseas Chinese. If you’re looking for a refreshing read. I’d say pick it.
- An Eternity of Eclipse by Con Template: This book follows the story of Grace Hwang, who was accused of murdering her entire family at the age of six. She has sadistic tendencies and she lives off knowing everyone around her is in misery. Then she met, a Demon who covets her soul. To sum it up, its a paranormal romance and it gives you glimpse about the nature of demons. Compared to your standard Adult paranormal books, this one is actually starring by Korean characters and it is set in Korea.