There is Hope: Interview with Debut Author Liz Lawson on "The Lucky Ones"


For those who have made their way through painful, heartbreaking times and managed to find their way through to the other side. I wanted to show them that there is hope.

America has experienced 2,412 mass shootings since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 (Vox). After the cameras leave and the spotlight disappears, survivors of these events are left to grapple with the consequences: anger; grief; sometimes legal proceedings; always lives altered. In her debut novel The Lucky Ones, author Liz Lawson tackles the stories of survivors through dual perspectives. May, whose twin brother Jordan died in a school shooting, struggles to adjust to a new school. Zach, whose mother is the lawyer defending Jordan's killer, faces isolation at school for a choice that was not his own. After a chance meeting, the two discover that they can empathize with each other's loneliness.

Today, I am excited to welcome Ms. Lawson to the blog to discuss The Lucky Ones and writing for a young adult audience. My questions will be in blue, and Ms. Lawson's responses will be in standard text.

I'm 19 (!!) + 19 Things I'm Grateful For


“For me, becoming isn’t about arriving somewhere or achieving a certain aim. I see it instead as forward motion, a means of evolving, a way to reach continuously toward a better self. The journey doesn’t end.”
- Michelle Obama, Becoming

Happy Friday all! I write to you now as a 19-year-old. I feel exactly the same, but I can't believe that I'm now living through my last year of being a teenager (aah!). Although I remained at home for social distancing, I am fortunate that my loved ones made me feel celebrated all the same. My younger sister is crafty, and made me a DIY chapstick of her own design. While still on campus, some of my college hallmates had planned to surprise me with a UN-themed murder mystery dinner. Even though we are now at home, my friends still insisted on holding the mystery over Zoom. I was so happy to reunite with my hall, even if for a moment over a computer screen.

Announcing the Soshelf Distancing Book Club!


Hi all! I hope you are doing well. I just finished my first three days of online classes and it's certainly been a transition.

On COVID-19 and Racism Toward Asian-Americans


I don't remember the first time that I knew I was Asian, but my mom tells me it went something like this: I emerged smiling from my kindergarten classroom, equipped with my hot pink Hello Kitty backpack. Parents clustered outside, waiting to pick up their kids after a day of counting by tens and drawing potato-heads we thought were portraits. My mom greeted me in Korean, her native tongue. Suddenly aware of my classmates and the stares of their parents, I declared to the eyes around me, "I don't know what she's saying."

I don't remember this moment. But I know now that it made me feel other. I thought that rejecting my mother's tongue and making sure that these strangers knew that I spoke English would dye my hair and bleach my skin. I could claim the whiteness of my dad, and my mom could be other.

Boston, Birthdays, & Byes: a Belated Recap of February 2020


“Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something you own.”
- Michelle Obama, Becoming

Hi all! I hope you are home safe and healthy. I am writing this post from my bedroom at home, surrounded by photos and posters I plastered on my wall during my sophomore year of high school. Things are bittersweet: I am enjoying the extra time with my younger sister, but my spring break was extended to curb the spread of COVID-19. Because the college called the decision after I had already left for break, I am equipped with about a week and a half's worth of clothes. Like many of my peers, I am still processing that the next time I step foot on campus, I may very well be a sophomore in college. But, I am grateful that schools across the country are striving to put the health of students and staff first and seek alternative methods of learning.

Blog Tour + Review: Anna K.: A Love Story


Thank you to Flatiron Books at Macmillan Publishers for inviting me to participate in the Anna K blog tour! I received an advanced reader copy for review. Receiving this galley does not impact my opinion of the book.
"Every happy teenage girl is the same, while every unhappy teenage girl is miserable in her own special way."

In this modern-day retelling of Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, Anna K. grapples with living defined by her parents and society or choosing her own, flawed path. At 17, Anna K. has already secured a relationship with the seemingly-perfect Harvard student and "Greenwich OG", Alexander, that her community believes will end in marriage. But, an unexpected encounter and later affair with Alexia "Count" Vronsky, drives her to question whether she feels fulfilled in her relationship with Alexander and with life. In Anna's social circle conflict and romance also abound. Steven, Anna's older brother, cheats on his girlfriend Lolly; Kimmie, Lolly's younger sister, wrestles with her love for Vronsky and her personal identity after an injury upended her ice-skating career; Dustin, Steven's tutor, wonders how he could win the favor of one of the elite girls. When Anna's affair, scandals, and tragedy shock her community, Anna and her friends challenge their values and what love means to them.

How I Review Books: 7 Steps to a Killer Book Review


I love to read and review books. As my website has changed with me since I started it in eighth grade, enduring different name changes, designs, and topics of discussion, book reviews have remained a staple.

As I transitioned from middle school to high school, and more recently, high school to college, my writing and my methods for tackling book reviews have changed a lot. Today I wanted to share my current method for reviewing books, both to compare with fellow book bloggers (hey guys!) and offer some tips I've learned throughout my journey.

TV, Teens & Turmoil: Rayne & Delilah's Midnite Matinee Review


Thank you to Random House Children's Crown Books for Young Readers for providing me with an advanced reader copy for review. Receiving this galley does not impact my opinion of the book.
"On TV, things are uncomplicated, with lots of fanfare. But sometimes real life is better, in all of its complications, in all of its everyday, quiet ache."

In this novel, Jeff Zenter weaves the perspectives of high school seniors Josie and Delia, known to their horror movie show audience as Rayne and Delilah. On "Rayne and Delilah's Midnite Matinee", the girls watch and review old films that Delia's father shared with her as a child. For Josie, the show is practice for her future career in television. As high school graduation approaches, however, Josie struggles to choose between staying in her hometown to continue the local show and moving to Knoxville to pursue something bigger: an internship at the Food Network. She also unexpectedly falls in love with a guest on her show, Lawson, further complicating her decision. For Delia, the show has more personal meaning: "Rayne and Delilah's Midnite Matinee" is her escape from her home situation, where Delia must care for her mother, and a way to reach out to the father that left her. Zenter's book illustrates the hard decisions that young adults face during their transition to life after high school.

Comfort, College, & Canada: January 2020 Recap


“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” -
- John Steinbeck

I can't believe that January is already over. This month was eventful for me: I transitioned from a restorative winter break at home to an increasingly busy second semester of college. Looking back, the days felt slow, but the weeks flew by.

Why is the Korean Church So Important to the Korean-American Community? (I Made a Podcast!)


"When you come to a strange place, you need someone to help you. You need someone to talk to you and share your meals and your life and your job. So we need as a person, we need community, we need somebody other than yourself. That’s natural. We need each other."  - Barbara Park

During my first semester of college, I took a freshman seminar called American Soundscapes. In this class, we explored a variety of music in the United States and the diaspora and communities behind them. From traditional Irish music in Boston to North Indian classical dance in San Francisco and Arab music in Detroit, our case studies ventured to unexpected and vibrant nodes of culture.