New Release Thursday – Lunar New Year Love Story by Gene Luen Yang and LeUyen Pham



Happy (almost) Lunar New Year to all who celebrate! It’s the 10th of February this year, so I figured now would be a perfect time to review Lunar New Year Love Story by Gene Luen Yang and LeUyen Pham. This beautiful graphic novel–written and illustrated by titans of the genre–is a gorgeous tribute to love and tradition. Our main character, Valentina, is a Vietnamese-American teen who loves love more than anything. Until she gets older and Valentine’s Day–her favorite holiday–becomes a social faux-pas. Her entire family is cursed, you see. Doomed in love, every member of her family has lost their love somehow–be it through abandonment or divorce. Valentina becomes so jaded that Saint V, the ghost of Saint Valentine, Lunar New Year Love Story: 9781250908261: Yang, Gene Luen, Pham, LeUyen:  Books - Amazon.comgives her an ultimatum: Fall in true love in one year and she’ll be able to break the curse. If she doesn’t, she must give her heart to him and never fall in love again.

And so Valentine gets to work to find her true love.

Lunar New Year Love Story isn’t just a love story set around the lunar new year. It is a beautifully rendered tribute to tradition itself. See, Lunar New Year (or Chinese New Year, as you might know it), isn’t just Chinese. It’s celebrated all over Asia. Called Tet in Vietnam, Seollal in Korea, and so much more. I loved how Yang and Pham included characters of many Asian descents so readers can see how lunar new year traditions change according to country. Valentina’s first love interest, Les, is Chinese, while her second love interest, Jae, is Korean and has an uncle who teaches him the “Korean way” of doing things.

Core to the story is the art of lion dancing. You may have seen it before on television shows or movies, but the lion dance is essential to the lunar new year and involves two people dressed as giant lion, dancing to bring good fortune. I loved learning all about the lion dance and really liked that it was a central part of the story.

Overall, this was a lovely story about family and tradition. Valentina’s love story kind of takes a back seat, which is fine. Her relationship with both boys felt real and authentic to the teenage experience. I also loved her grandmother. She’s the best.

You can pick up Lunar New Year Love Story at the Oreana Library today!

Oh, and remember, this year is the year of the dragon! Click here to learn more!

Gong xi fa cai!

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