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 youth services librarian at the Timberland Regional Library System. She served on the 2023 Newbery committee.

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