cover image Private Label

Private Label

Kelly Yang. HarperCollins/Tegen, $17.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-294110-7

In Southern California, Serene Li, 17, wants to be just like her successful fashion designer mother, Lily. But when Lily is diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer after a fall during New York Fashion Week, Serene finds herself in her mother’s shoes much sooner than she imagined, moving from distrusted intern to second-in-command. Worried about being left on her own, Serene also quietly attempts to find her long-absent father, who is presumably still living in Beijing, but she speaks almost no Chinese. Enter Lian Chen, recent emigrant from Beijing, whose family is pressuring him to attend an engineering program at MIT. At school, he starts Chinese Club as a college application filler, thinking it will give him time to practice his true passion—comedy—but he gets more than he bargained for when Serene walks in. In astutely told alternating chapters that advance toward a hopeful end, Yang’s (Parachutes) protagonists steadily find comfort in one another, working to take control of their lives while navigating stifling parental expectations, racial prejudice, and school bullying and workplace politics. Ages 14–up. Agent: Tina Dubois, ICM Partners. (May)