cover image Lunar New Year Love Story

Lunar New Year Love Story

Gene Luen Yang, illus. by LeUyen Pham. First Second, $25.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-62672-810-3; $17.99 paper ISBN 978-1-250-90826-1

A Vietnamese American teen at a romantic crossroads must decide whether it’s worth keeping her heart safe by giving up on love in this lightly fantastical, heartwarming graphic novel from Yang (American Born Chinese) and Pham (the Princess in Black series). Every year, Valentina Tran—accompanied by her cherubic imaginary friend Saint V—excitedly distributes valentines to her classmates and to her father, who remains heartbroken over her late mother. But Val’s world is shattered after she’s met with derision from the valentines’ recipients, and a visit from her grandmother reveals a devastating truth about her parents’ relationship. Saint V, now a ghoulish version of his former self, entices Val with a bargain: Val must find love within the year or give up her heart to Saint V, who will protect it from further pain. As Lunar New Year celebrations commence, Val reexamines her relationship with family, friends, and herself, and navigates her tumultuous feelings, hoping to believe in love again. Poignant moments amplified by evocatively colored digitally rendered panels address deep issues of parental abandonment and grief, while interjections of comic relief and a riveting subplot surrounding lion dancing result in a well-paced, well-balanced dual effort. Ages 14–up. (Jan.)