cover image The Silence That Binds Us

The Silence That Binds Us

Joanna Ho. HarperTeen, $17.99 (448p) ISBN 978-0-06-305934-4

A grieving Chinese American teen combats the model minority myth and its harm in Ho’s (Eyes That Kiss in the Corners) potent YA debut. Unlike her accomplished older brother Danny, Maybelline Chen, who wants to be a writer, feels as if she falls short of her parents’ expectations. It’s a shock to the entire family when Princeton-bound Danny dies by suicide. Their pain intensifies when local white Silicon Valley mogul Nate McIntyre publicly denounces “tiger moms and dads,” accusing May’s parents of pressuring Danny about academics, and potentially driving him to take his own life. Appalled, May pens a poem in response that’s published in Sequoia Park’s local paper, provoking debate within her community. Surprisingly to May, Chinese American classmate Alvin Lo condemns her for seemingly speaking for their town’s Chinese population at large. When May’s burgeoning notoriety threatens her mother’s job, May and Haitian best friend Tiya Marie Duverne rally their classmates to take back their narratives. With a layered, sensitive voice, May confronts her parents’ silence surrounding Danny’s depression and their complacency around maintaining the status quo. Using complex characterizations and intense dialogue, Ho’s weighty novel delves into themes of racism, classism, loss, and healing. Ages 14–up. Agent: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary. (June)