Review by Booklist Review
Gregorio (None of the Above, 2015) takes readers into the world of restaurants in her latest novel, where they'll join rising junior and first-generation Chinese American Jocelyn Wu and new employee Will, a teen struggling to manage his anxiety. As A-Plus Chinese Garden contends with a lack of customers, Jocelyn hatches a plan to bring the family restaurant into the present with a larger social media presence. Meanwhile, her romance with Will threatens the restaurant and her family relationships. In part a love letter to family, this strikes on themes of depression and stigmatized perceptions of mental illness and its treatment, topics informed by Gregorio's #OwnVoices perspective and expanded upon in a moving author's note. A standout read in terms of packing timely issues into a contemporary and charming plot, this colorful novel will find love with fans of Maurene Goo's The Way You Make Me Feel (2018) and Eric Smith's Don't Read the Comments (2020), while giving others plenty to chew on.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Gregorio (None of the Above) introduces Taiwanese-American Jocelyn Wu, 16, who is determined to save her family's failing Chinese restaurant in central New York, and biracial (half black, half white) William Domenici, also 16, in need of both a paying summer gig and the "investigative skills" required to earn a more significant role at his school newspaper. A charmingly awkward meet-cute ends with Jos hiring Will to help the business. As feelings develop between the two, familial expectations and difficult truths--including the failing restaurant, Jos's depression, and Will's anxiety--threaten to quash their relationship. Gregorio introduces the protagonists through alternating perspectives, unspooling each character's quirks and the ways their strengths, insecurities, and experiences affect them and those closest to them. Readers will come to this story for dynamic romantic and familial relationships, but they'll stay for its smart exploration of depression, anxiety, and self-care. Gregorio doesn't preach or prescribe, instead offering readers a safe space in which to consider and develop their understanding of mental health and, like Jos and Will, find the courage to ask for help if needed. Ages 12--up. Agent: Jessica Regel, Foundry Literary + Media. (Apr.)
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Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 8 Up--Jocelyn Wu has a plan to save her family's struggling Chinese restaurant in Utica, NY. With her father's reluctant approval she decides to hire a summer intern to help out at the restaurant and increase its online presence. Enter William Domenici, new intern and aspiring journalist looking for a story. Will and Jos hit it off; although they are very different, they have a lot in common. Jos, an American-born Chinese girl, and Will, the son of a Nigerian doctor and an Italian lawyer, are both entering junior year of high school and don't exactly blend into the background of their predominantly white, upstate New York town. Told in alternating first-person chapters, the story quickly immerses readers in the drama that unfolds over the course of the summer: Can the restaurant be saved? Will Jos and Will get together despite Mr. Wu's strict rules? Issues of mental health also come into play. Will, diagnosed with an anxiety disorder when he was younger, has spent years learning how to manage his anxiety with the help of his therapist. It is his sensitivity to mental health issues that enables him to encourage Jos to seek help for her depression. VERDICT Deftly navigating issues of race and mental health, as well as giving voice to the reality of American teens born to immigrant families, many of whom grapple with different cultural and familial expectations, Gregorio, a founding member of We Need Diverse Books, has written a heartwarming foodie rom-com. Recommended for fans of realistic fiction.--Ragan O'Malley, Saint Ann's School, Brooklyn
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
Mental illness is no match for love in this diverse, compelling novel. After years of missing New York City, Chinese American teenager Jocelyn Wu has finally gotten used to living in Utica. She's got a best friend, a spot in a college-level film class, and has even found a bubble tea place. So when her father announces that their family has to move back to the city because their restaurant is bankrupt, she's determined to find a way to stay. Her first step is to hire teen Will Domenici, a biracial (Nigerian/white) budding journalist who lives with acute anxiety. Sparks fly, and what started out as a summer internship becomes a full-blown romance--one that Jocelyn's father, Mr. Wu, stipulates can continue only if the pair fulfills the terms of a contract that include raising the restaurant's revenue by 30% before the end of the summer. With her happiness at stake, Jocelyn begins to suffer from her own mental health issues--ones that she's not sure her relationship can survive. Gregorio's (contributor: Our Stories, Our Voices, 2018, etc.) diverse cast of characters authentically navigate their mental illnesses through the twists and turns of a fast-paced plot, and the romance between Will and Jocelyn sparkles. A sweet, entertaining romance. (author's note, resources) (Romance. 14-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.