Happy Lunar New Year! Celebrate with East & Southeast Asian YA Books!


We updated this list for 2017! Click here to see more recent books.

This year, February 19th marks the first day of the Lunar New Year.

This holiday is the most important and most celebrated holiday for many East Asian and Southeast Asian cultures. It honors the first day on a luni-solar calendar, also known as the agricultural calendar. While the Lunar New Year is celebrated by many, each culture has its own traditions and festivities. Because of this, the Lunar New Year is commonly referred to a specific culture’s New Year – such as Chinese New Year or Japanese New Year.

Since I am of Chinese descent, my family and I celebrate every year by gathering with family and eating copious amounts of food on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. In addition to that, I am gifted hongbao – Chinese for red envelopes, from my parents and other married relatives. Inside is money, which represents and brings good luck and fortune.

To celebrate, I compiled a list of 15 East & Southeast Asian YA books that release in 2015. With a little help from the Diversity in YA team, I can say with confidence that all of the books below have characters that are of East or Southeast Asian descent.

Happy Lunar New Year – and happy reading!

under a painted sky stacey leeUnder a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 17th
In 1849, Samantha wants to move back to New York to become a professional musician. But when an accident destroys her dreams and forces her to flee for her life, she heads for the Oregon Trail with the help of a runaway slave. They disguise themselves as Sammy and Andy, two boys headed for the California Gold Rush.

The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 5th
Sora is diagnosed with ALS and turns to the ancient wisdom of the samurai. But through the internet, he finds not only inspiration from the samurai, but friends that beyond his illness.


For the Record Charlotte HuangFor the Record by Charlotte Huang
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: November 10th
Chelsea is the lead singer of the band Melbourne. But the band doesn’t really like her. And when Chelsea gets the attention of teen heartthrob Lucas Rivers, Chelsea is more famous than ever – and Melbourne is more popular than ever. But if she wants to live the rock star life, she’ll have to take the summer to make the band and their fans love her – or it’s back to ordinary life.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 1st
Madeline Whittier is allergic to the world. She only knows her mom and her nurse, Carla. But when Olly moves in next door, Madeline knows that she’s going to fall in love with him. And that it’s going to be a disaster.


ink and ashes valynne e. maetaniInk and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani
Publisher: Tu Books
Release Date: May 15th
Claire Takata lost her father as a young girl – but when she finds a mysterious letter from him on her seventeenth birthday, everything changes. She discovers he was a member of the yakuza, the Japanese mafia. And now her life is in danger.

LITTLE MISS EVIL by Bryce Leung & Kristy Shen

Little Miss Evil by Bryce Leung & Kristy Shen
Publisher: Spencer Hill
Release Date: March 1st
Fiona’s used to a crazy life: living in a volcano, rides to school in a helicopter. After all, her dad’s an evil genius. But when somebody manages to kidnap him and demands that Fiona hand over a nuclear bomb, Fiona has to rescue him, flamethrower and all.



Of Dreams and Rust (Of Metal and Wishes #2) by Sarah Fine
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date: August 4th
In the sequel to Of Metal and Wishes, war has erupted across the country. Wen has been holding her secrets close, working in a weapons factory and sneaking away to nurse Bo – once known as the Ghost. When Wen overhears plans to crush her old Noor friend Melik’s people with what the factory creates, Wen decides to leave behind everything – including Bo – to warn the Noor people.

ps i still love you jenny han

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 26th
In this sequel to All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Lara Jean is more confused than ever. She didn’t really expect to fall for Peter. When another boy from her past life returns, so do her feelings for him. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?


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The Suffering by Rin Chupeco
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Release Date: August 1st
It’s been two years since Tark Halloway became free of the evil spirits that haunted his childhood. Now he aids the ghostly Okiku to avenge the souls of innocent children. But when Okiku causes a death at his high school, Tark begins to wonder if they’re no better than the killers they hunt.


SISTERS OF BLOOD AND SPIRIT by Kady CrossSisters of Blood and Spirit by Kady Cross
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: March 31st
Wren Noble was born dead. She lives for the moments when her twin sister allows her to step inside her body and experience the living. And her sister Lark doesn’t exactly fit in with the living, though a recent suicide attempt showed she’s not ready to join her sister in the afterlife. The boy who saved Lark’s life from her suicide attempt now needs their spiritual help.

serpentine-temp cindy ponSerpentine by Cindy Pon
Publisher: Month9Books
Release Date: September 8th
Skybright begins morphing into a serpent demon on the night of her sixteenth birthday. Daybreak brings her back to herself, and to her life as a handmaid of a wealthy family. More than anything, Skybright wants to be herself – even as she begins to fall for a mortal boy.


stormStorm (Paper Gods #3) by Amanda Sun
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: June 30th
After a year in Japan, Katie unearth the secret behind her boyfriend Tomohiro’s ability to bring drawings to life. He is descended from the ancient Japanese gods – and the heir to a tragedy that occurred long ago, and will repeat itself, if Katie can’t put Tomohiro’s powers to sleep.

under the lights dahlia adlerUnder the Lights (Daylight Falls #2) by Dahlia Adler
Publisher: Spencer Hill Contemporary
Release Date: June 30th
Vanessa Park has always been certain about her path as an actress, even when starring in the TV show Daylight Falls against newbie actor Josh Chester. At least Vanessa can rely on her new career handler Brianna. But there might be more than just friendship between them – and that more could ruin Vanessa’s acting career.

The Kidney Hypothetical by Lisa Yee

The Kidney Hypothetical by Lisa Yee
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Release Date: March 31st
Higgs Boson Bing has seven days left before his perfect high school career is completed and he leaves for Harvard. It’s everything his parents could have wanted. But when Higgs’ girlfriend – the most popular girl in school – asks a hypothetical question about whether or not he’d give her a kidney, the faults in his life are revealed.

[EDIT] Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout was removed from this list post-publication due to its problematic representation.

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About Author

Alison Ng

Alison lives in the NYC area, works in book publishing and really, really likes food.

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