ARC Review: Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao

Title: Our Wayward Fate
Author: Gloria Chao
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 320 Pages
Publication Date: October 15th, 2019

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Ali Chu knows that as the only Asian person at her school in middle-of-nowhere Indiana, she must be bland as white toast to survive. This means swapping her congee lunch for PB&Js, ignoring the clueless racism from her classmates and teachers, and keeping her mouth shut when people wrongly call her Allie instead of her actual name, Ah-lee, after the mountain in Taiwan. Her autopilot existence is disrupted when she finds out that Chase Yu, the new kid in school, is also Taiwanese. Despite some initial resistance due to the they belong together whispers, Ali and Chase soon spark a chemistry rooted in competitive martial arts, joking in two languages, and, most importantly, pushing back against the discrimination they face. But when Ali’s mom finds out about the relationship, she forces Ali to end it. As Ali covertly digs into the why behind her mother’s disapproval, she uncovers secrets about her family and Chase that force her to question everything she thought she knew about life, love, and her unknowable future.

I received a bound manuscript of this book (which was way cool!!) in exchange for an honest review, and I was super excited when I got the package since I read and loved Gloria's debut book, American Panda! (You can read my review here!) So without further ado, let's get into my review of Gloria's sophomore novel!

As the summary explains, Ali is used to blending in at her white school as the only Asian student, even letting everyone call her Allie, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at lunch, and doing everything she can to make everyone think she's just another white kid, burying her Chinese culture in the process. But when a new student -- a Chinese student -- comes to the school and refuses to apologize for who he is, Ali realizes that there's more to life than simply trying to blend in to make other people comfortable. And slowly but surely, she starts to shake up things at her high school, within her family, and even in her (potential?) relationship. 

I really enjoyed reading this book! I thought Ali was super funny, and a lot of her sarcastic comments and quips actually had me laughing out loud. I loved the whole family arc of this story as well, as Ali and her parents sort of have to find a new way to interact with each other and communicate. There are also a lot of shocking secrets that come to light in this book, definitely ones that I wasn't expecting, which makes for an even more thrilling experience. And the whole story of The Butterfly Lovers being told in tandem to Ali and Chase's story just adds a whole new interesting layer to the book as well!

My favorite character in this book was definitely Chase. Not only was he super cute and attractive when he was interacting with and flirting with Ali, but he was also hysterical and made some pretty funny jokes. I also really appreciated the way he stood up for himself and Ali in school, and through those acts he managed to help Ali realize that she has a right to be confident and proud of who she is, not ashamed and eager to blend in with everyone else at school. In that way, I think his character perfectly complimented Ali's.

The only thing I wasn't 100% crazy on with this book was the fact that Ali's behavior confused me at times. From the very beginning of the book, she spends so much time telling the reader about how she's always shy and doesn't stand up for herself, but suddenly as soon as Chase shows up, she's not only outspoken, but cursing at teachers and students in the hallway, and then she doesn't seem to face much discipline for it. Maybe it's just me and how my high school used to run, but I found myself really confused (and not entirely sold) on the fact that Ali just got to skirt by with all of those actions without facing any serious repercussions, not even detention or anything like that. In any high school I know of, that kind of behavior would absolutely get you in at least some sort of trouble. But I don't know, maybe it's just me that had trouble suspending my disbelief for those parts -- but other than that, I loved the book!

Overall, I really loved reading Our Wayward Fate. Gloria Chao's sophomore novel is full of Chinese history, humor, romance, adventure, and standing up in the face of adversity. If you're looking for a great read to pick up in October, I'd definitely recommend wandering over to this one on the shelf!


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