The Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Robin Palmer; and Since You Asked, by Maurene Goo
...I wrote about two books.
It takes a problem—in this case, parental addiction—and it walks the heroine and, in turn, the reader, through the steps of working through said problem. Annabeth flashes back to the time before her mother’s problem became public, but the majority of the book focuses on her experiences throughout her mother’s recovery, and more importantly, it focuses on how their relationship changes and strengthens throughout the process. Which is why, although it has the bones of an issue novel, I wouldn’t call it one: the real focus is on the people, not the problem.
She’s a girl trying to fit into two very different cultures—she’s a Korean American, born and raised in San Diego—and reconciling the cultural traditions of her family with any semblance of a social life...well, it’s difficult. While I have no doubt that many readers will identify with and enjoy that aspect of her character, I appreciated her even more for being an Angry Young Woman. Some of that anger comes from familial pressure (she feels like she’s doing pretty well when she’s able to refrain from calling her mother a fascist); some of it comes from dealing with the everyday, moronic racism of her peers; some of it comes from the frustration borne of trying to abide by two distinct sets of cultural norms; but most of it just comes from BEING A TEENAGER.