Lunar New Year Love Story | Gene Luen Yang & LeUyen Pham


Out Now from First Second; 352 pages

About the Author: “Gene Luen Yang is the fifth National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. His graphic novel American Born Chinese, a National Book Award finalist and Printz Award winner, has been adapted into an original series on Disney+. His nonfiction graphic novel, Dragon Hoops, received an Eisner Award and a Printz honor. In 2016, he was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow” (Bio from Lunar New Year Love Story).

Find Gene Luen Yang on the following platforms:

About the Illustrator: “LeUyen Pham has illustrated more than one hundred books for children, including the Caldecott Honor Book Bear Came Along by Richard T. Morris and the bestselling Princess in Black series by Shannon and Dean Hale. She is the co-creator, along with Shannon Hale, of the bestselling Friends series. Her own books include Outside, Inside, The Bear Who Wasn’t There, and Big Sister, Little Sister” (Bio from Lunar New Year Love Story).

Find LeUyen Pham on the following platforms:

“I’m scared that in the end, the heartbreak will outweigh everything else. But then I remember that one mid-autumn night…”

Valentina “Val” Tran grew up adoring Valentine’s Day. She would dedicate time each year to making valentines for everyone in her life with a little help from Saint Valentine, affectionately referred to as Saint V. During Val’s freshman year of high school, however, everything changes. Val’s relationships with Valentine’s Day, her family, and Saint V are all drastically altered after a shocking secret comes to light. Flash forward to junior year, and Val is a certified Valentine’s Day hater, supported by her grandmother’s insistence that her family is cursed to be unlucky in love. After an encounter with an intriguing duo of lion dancing boys at a Lunar New Year festival, Val’s stance on love is once again shaken as she begins to wonder if she can be the first in her family to find lasting love by joining the lion dancing group.

Lunar New Year Love Story is a story that celebrates all types of love: familial, romantic, and platonic. The graphic novel is easily worth reading for LeUyen Pham’s illustrations alone as it is filled with captivating, colorful spreads that encourage readers to pour over the images and take in every detail. Gene Luen Yang also keeps readers turning the pages with fast-paced storytelling and nonstop drama. I originally picked up this book because the creators are entertaining live speakers, so I was so happy to find laugh-out-loud funny moments, especially in scenes involving Val’s grandmother. Another great facet of this book was the representations of various Asian cultures. I appreciated how the book acknowledges that people have multiple backgrounds and avoids the all-too-common assertion that there is a monolithic “Asian” culture that aligns with the traditions and experiences of all Asian people. On a similar note, the depiction of the beauty and significance of lion dancing really stood out. The lion dancing scenes are easily the most memorable part of the book; the movement-filled illustrations leap off the page. While I was less entranced by the romantic aspect of the book, I appreciated how it connected the characters and drew attention to different relationship needs. As cousins, the boys’ platonic/familial love is perhaps just as complicated as their respective romantic relationships with Val. Throughout the book, I found myself wishing that other types of relationships were prioritized over romance. If you love love, however, this may be the perfect graphic novel for you.

Ashley Amacher, Pine Reads Review Assistant Director & Lead Editor