Review of Love, Love

Love, Love
by Victoria Chang
Intermediate, Middle School    Sterling    214 pp.    g
6/20    978-1-4549-3832-3    $16.95

This semiautobiographical verse novel begins with eleven-year-old Chinese American girl Frances Chin witnessing an attack on her older sister, Clara, behind their school. (Frances herself has endured taunts centered on race: “you’re SO SO ugly / open your eyes / he laughs with his fingers pulling / his eyes to make / them squinty.”) But with passive bystander classmates and a mother who stresses maintaining family honor, Frances remains silent, internalizing her feelings. The one place she feels a sense of control is on the tennis court, playing with her friend Annie and eventually on the school’s team (“I feel like I can / lift the world with / my racket”). After noticing some worrying behaviors (and hair loss) in her sister, she finds and ultimately reads Clara’s diary, which reveals Clara’s struggles with trichotillomania, also called hair-pulling disorder. In a heartfelt scene, Frances overcomes emotional barriers and silently reveals to Clara that she knows her secret. Themes of bullying, empathy, family, and identity are explored through Chang’s spare prose. The author elegantly expresses Frances’s complex emotions and provides an intimate portrait of immigrant lives. An appended note provides insight into Chang’s experience growing up in an immigrant family “not familiar with mental health issues such as trichotillomania.”

From the July/August 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Kristine Techavanich

Kristine Techavanich is a children's librarian at the Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach, Florida.

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.


RELATED 

Community matters. Stay up to date on breaking news, trends, reviews, and more.

Get access to reviews of books, ebooks, and more