Review of Private Label

Private Label Private Label
by Kelly Yang
High School    Tegen/HarperCollins    416 pp.   g
5/22    978-0-06-294110-7    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-0-06-294112-1    $12.99

In this culturally rich romance, Yang (Parachutes, rev. 5/20) revisits themes of gender, class, racism, and identity in another story with elements from her own life. Alternating first-person narrators Serene and Lian, both of Chinese descent, experience their racial and ethnic identities in fully distinct ways. Lian hides his dream of becoming a stand-up comedian from his hard-working, traditional parents. When Serene’s successful fashion-designer mother is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, Serene becomes the parent, unprepared for the emotional and physical toll of caring for her mom. Unsupported by her sex-obsessed boyfriend and driven to locate her long-lost father, Serene comes to Lian’s Chinese club, and the two grow close. The teens support each other through their aspirations and trials, finding strength in their common experiences (e.g., microaggressions at school; the push and pull between ­authenticity and assimilation) while confronting generational ­expectations. Yang excels at spinning stories with vibrant characters that open ­readers’ hearts and invite them to ­question their own expectations and assumptions.

From the July/August 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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