Picture us in the light

Kelly Loy Gilbert

Book - 2018

Danny Cheng, a Chinese-American teen, grapples with a dangerous revelation about his parents' past, his plans for the future, and his feelings for his best friend, Harry Wong.

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YOUNG ADULT FICTION/Gilbert Kelly
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Subjects
Genres
Young adult fiction
Published
Los Angeles ; New York : Hyperion 2018.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Item Description
Includes suicide and crisis resources at the end of the book.
Physical Description
353 pages, 9 unnumbered pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9781484726020
1484726022
Main Author
Kelly Loy Gilbert (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

*Starred Review* When Danny Cheng's father loses his job, his parents' carefully constructed life starts to break apart. His father settles into a depression, and his mother becomes more manic. Both worry constantly about money and Danny's safety. At the same time, Danny has problems of his own. He keeps deep secrets from those closest to him—about how he might be responsible for the death of his friend, Sandra, one year before, and about his true feelings regarding his best friend, Harry. As Danny struggles to make sense of his parents' strange behavior, he uncovers evidence of secret lives, of names abandoned, and of a sister he thought had died long ago. Using the metaphor of quantum entanglement—that objects brought together will continue to act in concert even if they are taken apart—Gilbert effortlessly times characters' present actions with key revelations about their past. With grace and respect, Gilbert manages to address the existential quandaries of both second-generation American teens and their immigrant parents who must make profoundly life-changing choices to give their children the best life possible. The result is both exhilarating and tortuous—Gilbert methodically lays bare her characters' secrets as if she was slowly pulling a cloth off a fine painting. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

It's easy to pigeonhole books: this one's an immigrant story, this will appeal to readers who have lost someone to suicide, here's a doomed love story, and so on. Gilbert (Conviction) includes all these elements and more in this novel, masterfully negotiating plot twists and revelations while keeping the focus on her characters. Danny Cheng is an artist and one of the least wealthy kids at Silicon Valley High School; when he gets a full scholarship to RISD, he pictures his "whole life radiating like a sunbeam out from this one point." But the sunbeam is shadowed by the guilt and grief that Danny, his best friend Harry, and Harry's girlfriend feel about their friend Sandra's death, and it fades entirely when his father's job loss forces the family to move. The move dredges up secrets that Danny's Chinese immigrant parents have been keeping and even threatens his college future. And the love story? It's there too, in the interstices, another secret that Gilbert handles subtly and surprisingly. Ages 14–up. Agent: Adriann Ranta Zurhellen, Foundry Literary. (Apr.) Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.

Review by School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 9 Up—A glimpse into the lives of teens who are dealing with issues surrounding academic excellence and parental pressure. This offering by the author of Conviction tackles topics such as suicide, sexual identity, and loss. Danny Cheng and his friends attend one of Cupertino's privileged public high schools and future success is almost certain. Danny's artistic talent has been recognized by his dream school, RISD, and no one is more proud of his full scholarship than his first-generation Chinese American parents. When Danny accidentally discovers a box of his father's papers containing copies of names, photos, and public records of a powerful Silicon Valley family, he wonders if his parents are involved in something illegal with ties to their former life in China. On the cusp of adulthood yet under consistent parental watch, Danny is determined to unravel the mystery of his family's painful past while navigating increasingly complicated personal relationships and school life. The strength of this novel lies in the ambitious main character's simultaneous snark and vulnerability, which sways readers' loyalty between him and his well-meaning parents. Uncomfortable feelings are communicated through smart, acerbic exchanges and Danny's inner monologues. Dreamlike flashbacks smoothly weave the past's secrets into present-day plotlines. Despite their obvious wealth and sheltered upbringings, the characters are a likable complement to the strange but plausible underlying mystery. The author demonstrates exquisite facility with tech-savvy teen-speak in every scenario and balances the authentic dialogue with elegant prose. VERDICT An excellent choice for YA collections.—Jane Miller, Nashville Public Library Copyright 2018 School Library Journal.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Daniel, a Chinese-American teen, must grapple with his plans for the future, his feelings for his best friend Harry, and his discovery of a family secret that could shatter everything.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"Picture me madly in love with this moving, tender, unapologetically honest book."'Becky Albertalli, #1 best-selling author of Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda Danny Cheng has always known his parents have secrets. But when he discovers a taped-up box in his father's closet filled with old letters and a file on a powerful Bay Area family, he realizes there's much more to his family's past than he ever imagined.Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family's blessing to pursue the career he's always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend, Harry Wong, by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. Harry's and Danny's lives are deeply intertwined and as they approach the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that shook their friend group to its core, Danny can't stop asking himself if Harry is truly in love with his girlfriend, Regina Chan.When Danny digs deeper into his parents' past, he uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history and the carefully constructed facade his parents have maintained begins to crumble. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him in this complex, lyrical novel.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

"Picture me madly in love with this moving, tender, unapologetically honest book."—Becky Albertalli, #1 best-selling author of Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda Danny Cheng has always known his parents have secrets. But when he discovers a taped-up box in his father's closet filled with old letters and a file on a powerful Bay Area family, he realizes there's much more to his family's past than he ever imagined.Danny has been an artist for as long as he can remember and it seems his path is set, with a scholarship to RISD and his family's blessing to pursue the career he's always dreamed of. Still, contemplating a future without his best friend, Harry Wong, by his side makes Danny feel a panic he can barely put into words. Harry's and Danny's lives are deeply intertwined and as they approach the one-year anniversary of a tragedy that shook their friend group to its core, Danny can't stop asking himself if Harry is truly in love with his girlfriend, Regina Chan.When Danny digs deeper into his parents' past, he uncovers a secret that disturbs the foundations of his family history and the carefully constructed facade his parents have maintained begins to crumble. With everything he loves in danger of being stripped away, Danny must face the ghosts of the past in order to build a future that belongs to him in this complex, lyrical novel.