In this post I’m recommending five of my favorite books with Asian American or Pacific Islander characters. There are tons more great books on this subject, but these five have wonderfully detailed characters you’ll love.
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
All of Amy Tan’s books are excellent. The Joy Luck Club was probably the first book I read, though, that made me realize that my mother had a life before me. Very well written mother-daughter story about four Chinese women who immigrated to San Francisco and their daughters.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
Set in Seattle’s Japantown, this story centers around a Chinese boy and his friendship with a Japanese girl. She was sent to an internment camp in World War II. Forty years later, he discovers what happened to her after the war. Equally good is Ford’s next book, Songs of Willow Frost.
Leilani’s Gift by Bette Lee Crosby
Leilani has the gift of knowing. She knows that Hurricane Iniki will cause devastation to Maui, and she knows her lover’s son has cancer. Set against the beauty of Hawaii and its culture, this book tells of the responsibility of the gift and its impact on Leilani’s life.
Madam in Silk by Gini Grossenbacher
Ah Toy is twenty years old when she travels to San Francisco during the Gold Rush. Her husband dies on the trip, leaving Ah Toy to find a way to survive. She is tough and resilient. With only the help of her servant and the policeman John Clark, she makes her way.
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
This is a coming of age story told in verse. It’s a compelling account of a year in the life of Ha, a Vietnamese girl who has only known her life in Saigon until the war forces her family on a boat to America.