Women’s History Month Spotlight: Alice Pung

Lucy and LinhAnyone who’s asked me for a book rec in the last two years gets the same recommendation every time: Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung, also known by the title Laurinda. Lucy and Linh centers around Lucy as she struggles with the disconnect between the harsh politics of her all-girls private school and her home life with her working class, immigrant family.

Lucy and Linh is such a wonderfully written story about, well, so many things — family, identity, and the rigors of high school. Here’s just a glimpse to show you what I mean:

“What part of China are you from?” Aaron asked me, in the way you would ask a four-year-old to hold up a handful of fingers to show their age.

“I was born in Vietnam.”

“Hmm, how does that work?”

“Well, my mum went into labor and I popped out.” There was an awkward silence; my joke was hanging there like a tightrope walker without a net.

“I mean,” he patiently explained, as if talking to someone who had just clambered off a boat and had to fill in an immigration form in a language they couldn’t read, “why was a Chinese girl born in Vietnam?”

Linh, you would have retorted with “What’s a white guy like you doing being born in an Aboriginal country?” but I didn’t.

The moment I finished reading Lucy and Linh, it became one of my favorite YA books of all time. It meant so much to me, as an Asian American, reading about this Asian Australian story.

This is Alice Pung’s only YA book, but she’s written plenty else, including memoirs like Unpolished Gem and  Her Father’s Daughter. She’s also the editor of an anthology called Growing Up Asian in Australia. Here’s a video of Alice Pung talking about her writing journey, prior to writing Lucy and Linh:

To me, Alice Pung’s writing contributes so much to YA, even with just the one book. I’m excited for what she does next.

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