Zando Young Readers
April 11, 2023
April 2 - 17, 2023
Back to the Future meets The Joy Luck Club in this YA contemporary romance about a Korean American girl sent back to the ’90s to (reluctantly) help her teenage mom win Homecoming Queen.
Being a first-generation Asian American immigrant is hard. You know what’s harder? Being the daughter of one. Samantha Kang has never gotten along with her mother, Priscilla—and has never understood her bougie-nightmare, John Hughes high school expectations. After a huge fight between them, Sam is desperate to move forward—but instead, finds herself thrown back. Way back.
To her shock, Sam finds herself back in high school . . . in the ’90s . . . with a 17-year-old Priscilla. Now this Gen Z girl must try to fit into an analog world. She’s got the fashion down, but everything else is baffling. What is “microfiche”? What’s with the casual racism and misogyny? And why does it feel like Priscilla is someone she could actually be . . . friends with?
Sam's blast to the past has her finding the right romance in the wrong time while questioning everything she thought she knew about her mom . . . and herself. Will Sam figure out what she needs to do to fix things for her mom so that she can go back to a time she understands? Brimming with heart and humor, Maurene Goo’s time-travel romance asks big questions about what exactly one inherits and loses in the immigrant experience.
I went into this book hoping for all the 90s nostalgia. The book takes place in 1995, and I certainly got the 90s vibes. It was so much fun flashing back to the time of my childhood. (In 1995 I was a whole ten years old.)
Sam and her mother, Pricilla, do NOT get along. Pricilla was the first generation Korean-American living with a single mother barely making ends meet, trying to live the stereotypical American dream, while Sam is a Gen Z social justice/climate warrior who grew up very privileged. After a huge fight with her mom, Sam is thrown back in time to 1995. Sam is convinced she needs to help her mom win homecoming queen, then all will be well in the future.
The “magic” in this book is light, existing only as the plot device to throw Sam together with her mother, as a teenager. This really is a story of a mother/daughter relationship, with a romance side plot thrown in for good measure.
As someone who was once a teenage girl herself, as well as being a mother to a teenager now, I really felt that I could see the POV of both Sam and Pricilla. I definitely identified a little more with Pricilla, probably because we’re both millennials. Sam actually annoyed me quite a bit by taking every little thing she sees as not politically correct personally.
I loved the romance that was thrown in. I’m not going to say anything more on that front, except that I really enjoyed it.
The ending to this book was perfect. I can’t say how it ends, but I really liked it. Everything fell together exactly as it should.