Ali Chu is the only Asian student in her rural Indiana high school. Accustomed to her teacher’s blatantly racist remarks and her friends’ constant misunderstandings of her Taiwanese culture, Ali has learned to survive in a small town by not standing out. She is thrown for a loop however, when Chase, another Taiwanese American student, moves to town. Everyone at school thinks that because Ali and Chase are both Asian, they should become a couple.
Determined not to succumb to stereotype (or to her parents’ strict rule that she only date Chinese boys), Ali tries to resist her attraction to Chase, but as she gets to know him, their relationship moves quickly from friendship to something more. Just as quickly, however, Ali’s mother finds out and forbids Ali from dating Chase. While the two surreptitiously continue their relationship, they begin to discover long-hidden secrets about their families, forcing them to wonder about the circumstances that brought them together in the first place.
Gloria Chao’s beautifully heartbreaking second novel (after 2018’s American Panda) intersperses Ali and Chase’s contemporary story with the historically set Chinese folktake “The Butterfly Lovers.” Chao develops both primary and secondary characters well, particularly Ali’s friend Yun, who is just beginning to explore his sexuality.
With authentic teen voices that will help readers easily connect with the characters and their stories, Our Wayward Fate is an excellent choice for readers who love a mix of contemporary and historical fiction.