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236: Laura Gao's MESSY ROOTS - August 2022 Book Club


episode graphic with cover of Messy Roots and title Laura Gao's Messy Roots - August 2022 Book Club

In our August 2022 book club episode, we discuss Laura Gao's Messy Roots: A Graphic Memoir of a Wuhanese American. We share pairings for Gao's memoir including Malinda Lo’s Last Night at the Telegraph Club and Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese. Join us for the book club discussion of this one on Instagram! Just message us to be added to the chat.






Bookish Check-in

Ashley - Steven Rowley’s The Editor (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

Jen - Lalita Tademy’s Red River (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


Our Book Club Pick

Laura Gao's Messy Roots: A Graphic Memoir of a Wuhanese American (Bookshop.org)


Our Pairings

Ashley - Malinda Lo’s Last Night at the Telegraph Club (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

Jen - Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese (Bookshop.org)


Mentioned in Episode

Lalita Tademy's Cane River (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

Steven Rowley's The Guncle (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

Malinda Lo's Ash (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm) and Adaptation (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)


Give Me One - Audiobook Recommendation


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Bookish Check-in

Ashley was reading . . .


Steven Rowley’s The Editor (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

Book cover of Steven Rowley’s The Editor

"After years of trying to make it as a writer in 1990s New York City, James Smale finally sells his novel to an editor at a major publishing house: none other than Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Jackie--or Mrs. Onassis, as she's known in the office--has fallen in love with James's candidly autobiographical novel, one that exposes his own dysfunctional family. But when the book's forthcoming publication threatens to unravel already fragile relationships, both within his family and with his partner, James finds that he can't bring himself to finish the manuscript.


"Jackie and James develop an unexpected friendship, and she pushes him to write an authentic ending, encouraging him to head home to confront the truth about his relationship with his mother. Then a long-held family secret is revealed, and he realizes his editor may have had a larger plan that goes beyond the page...


"From the bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus comes a funny, poignant, and highly original novel about an author whose relationship with his very famous book editor will change him forever--both as a writer and a son."


Jen was reading . . .


Lalita Tademy’s Red River (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

Book cover of Lalita Tademy’s Red River

"For the newly-freed black residents of Colfax, Louisiana, the beginning of Reconstruction promised them the right to vote, own property-and at last control their own lives. Tademy saw a chance to start a school for his children and neighbors. His friend Israel Smith was determined to start a community business and gain economic freedom. But in the space of a day, marauding whites would 'take back' Colfax in one of the deadliest cases of racial violence in the South. In the bitter aftermath, Sam and Israel's fight to recover and build their dreams will draw on the best they and their families have to give-and the worst they couldn't have foreseen. Sam's hidden resilience will make him an unexpected leader, even as it puts his conscience and life on the line. Israel finds ironic success-and the bitterest of betrayals. And their greatest challenge will be to pass on to their sons and grandsons a proud heritage never forgotten-and the strength to meet the demands of the past and future in their own unique ways. An unforgettable achievement, a history brought to vibrant life through one of the most memorable families in fiction, Red River is about fathers and sons, husbands and wives-and the hopeful, heartbreaking choices we all must make to claim the legacy that is ours."


Our Book Club Pick

Laura Gao's Messy Roots: A Graphic Memoir of a Wuhanese American (Bookshop.org)

Book cover of Laura Gao's Messy Roots: A Graphic Memoir of a Wuhanese American

"After spending her early years in Wuhan, China, riding water buffalos and devouring stinky tofu, Laura immigrates to Texas, where her hometown is as foreign as Mars--at least until 2020, when COVID-19 makes Wuhan a household name.


"In Messy Roots, Laura illustrates her coming-of-age as the girl who simply wants to make the basketball team, escape Chinese school, and figure out why girls make her heart flutter.


"Insightful, original, and hilarious, toggling seamlessly between past and present, China and America, Gao's debut is a tour de force of graphic storytelling."




Our Pairings

Ashley recommended . . .


Malinda Lo’s Last Night at the Telegraph Club (Bookshop.org | Libro.fm)

Book cover of Malinda Lo’s Last Night at the Telegraph Club

"A story of love and duty set in San Francisco's Chinatown during the Red Scare.


"'That book. It was about two women, and they fell in love with each other.' And then Lily asked the question that had taken root in her, that was even now unfurling its leaves and demanding to be shown the sun: 'Have you ever heard of such a thing?'


"Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club.


"America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day."


Jen recommended . . .


Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese (Bookshop.org)

Book cover of Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese

"All Jin Wang wants is to fit in. When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he suddenly finds that he's the only Chinese American student at his school. Jocks and bullies pick on him constantly, and he has hardly any friends. Then, to make matters worse, he falls in love with an all-American girl...


"Born to rule over all the monkeys in the world, the story of the Monkey King is one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables. Adored by his subjects, master of the arts of kung-fu, he is the most powerful monkey on earth. But the Monkey King doesn't want to be a monkey. He wants to be hailed as a god...


"Chin-Kee is the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, and he's ruining his cousin Danny's life. Danny's a popular kid at school, but every year Chin-Kee comes to visit, and every year Danny has to transfer to a new school to escape the shame. This year, though, things quickly go from bad to worse...


"These three apparently unrelated tales come together with an unexpected twist, in a modern fable that is hilarious, poignant and action-packed. American Born Chinese is an amazing rise, all the way up to the astonishing climax--and confirms what a growing number of readers already know: Gene Yang is a major talent."

 

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