Decisions for a Heart: Lunar New Year Love Story

Posted February 10, 2024 by Richetta in #ownvoices, Book Reviews, Graphic Novel, Young Adult / 0 Comments

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I received this book for free from the publisher at the NCTE Convention in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Decisions for a Heart: Lunar New Year Love StoryLunar New Year Love Story by Gene Luen Yang
Illustrator: Leuyen Pham
Published by First Second on January 9, 2024
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Comics & Graphic Novels / Romance, Young Adult Fiction / People & Places / United States / Asian American & Pacific Islander
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher at the NCTE Convention
Buy on Bookshop

Graphic novel superstars Gene Luen Yang and LeUyen Pham join forces in this heartwarming rom-com about fate, family, and falling in love.

She was destined for heartbreak. Then fate handed her love.

Val is ready to give up on love. It's led to nothing but secrets and heartbreak, and she's pretty sure she's cursed—no one in her family, for generations, has ever had any luck with love.

But then a chance encounter with a pair of cute lion dancers sparks something in Val. Is it real love? Could this be her chance to break the family curse? Or is she destined to live with a broken heart forever?

Review: Lunar New Year Love Story by Gene Luen Yang and Leuyen Pham

Lunar New Year Love Story by Gene Luen Yang is about a young Valentine’s Day devotee gives up her love for the holiday after a series of unfortunate incidents. But can she learn the point of having a heart through her celebration of the Lunar New Year as a traditional Lion Dancer? This is an awesome graphic novel that connects the love of two holidays. Val is a teen girl who questions whether being happily ever after in love will ever be a reality for her.

As a child, Val (Valentina) has a strong connection to Valentine’s Day until her discovery of the “family curse” severs that connection. As a teenager, Val no longer believes in love until one year her grandmother introduces her to a celebration, called Têt in Vietnamese, also known in English as Lunar New Year. Val also gets introduced to Lion Dancing, where she is introduced to a young man she begins to like as well as his cousin who contributed to her hate for Valentine’s Day many years ago.

Val who has not had a lot of exposure to speaking Vietnamese or other cultural activities jumps at the chance to join the troupe. It’s a great portrayal of cultural traditions and perspectives. Her struggles with her family and self-discovery are an ongoing thread throughout the book.

5 Things I Loved About Lunar New Year Love Story

  1. Young Val’s sweet dedication to Valentine’s Day as a way of encouraging and uplifting her peers.
  2. Grandma! She has a smart mouth, the best one-liners and blows in and out of the narrative like a whirlwind.
  3. Lion Dancing: This was the first time I’d ever read about the art and tradition of lion dancing. It was great to hear the different cultural approaches to it as well. Val’s development as a dancer parallels her development as a character.
  4. St. Valentine: The several versions in the story, based on pop culture and history signify the innocent Val and the more grown up, jaded Val. Old St. Valentine was definitely super creepy though…
  5. Illustrations & Color Scheme: The illustrations were beautiful and the purples, oranges and pinks kept you in a Valentine’s Day frame of mind even though the bulk of the story spans a whole calendar year

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