Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) -- Justina Chen Headley
Nothing but the Truth (and a few white lies) deals with some of the same issues as a brief chapter in my impossible life: understanding family, both those who raised us and those who weren't there; reconciling two different cultures and finding a place in both of them. It's lighter, though, and it includes a romance—and it has blurbs by Meg Cabot, Julie Anne Peters, Lisa Yee and Deb Caletti on the back of the book. A recommendation from even one of those esteemed ladies would have been enough for me, but all four? Sheesh.
I'll let the narrator, Patty Ho (don't even bother mocking her name—she's heard 'em all) describe herself:
I can pass biology (miraculously), notes in class (well), and plates of food (perfectly). I cannot pass out (Why be out of control when I'm never in control in my prison cell of a home?) or pass a basketball (which bombs the theory that all tall kids can be basketball stars.)
But I cannot pass for white or Asian.
So I am not a banana, yellow on the outside and white on the inside. And I'm not an egg, a white kid who gets off on all things Asian. I suppose that makes me a banana split or scrambled eggs. Too bad they both make me gag.
She has a great voice, breezy and very, very funny. She figures things out by writing "Patty Ho Truth Theorems", which reminded me a bit of Anastasia Krupnik and Mia Thermopolis' lists. Her "Mama Lecture Series" introductions are just brilliant:
Lecture 1: You Have It So Easy
Greetings and welcome to The Mama Lecture Series, brought to you by the first-generation Mamas who left the Old Country for Brand-New America. But first, a message from our proud sponsors. While audience participation, such as talking back, is forbidden, tears of guilt and effusive apologies are more than welcome. Please be advised that there is no need for copious note-taking. These lectures are freely given at every possible opportunity. And we do mean, Every. Possible. Opportunity. Thank you so much and enjoy the show.
After a session with Belly Button Grandmother (a psychic who can see your future by, yes, checking out your bellybutton), Patty's mother ships her off to Stanford's summer math program in the hopes that Patty will meet a nice Taiwanese boy—and not the white boy that she is supposedly destined to meet.
Of course, nothing goes as planned—Patty learns a lot about herself and her family, the pros of hapa life (she was already well-versed in the cons), she finds her outer voice (she's already got a very loud inner one), discovers a love of buildering and develops a relationship with her inner Kung Fu Queen. Super fun.