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What I loved: the cultural stuff, especially lion dancing, and the nuance about the Asian diaspora (Vietnamese, Chinese, and Korean all represented).

What I wasn’t expecting: Lunar New Year actually plays a small part in the story; it’s much more focused on Valentine’s Day and Catholicism.

What wasn’t my thing: the way the love story was handled at the end, with teens making transcontinental flights and big commitments before they even graduate high school, and indeed without ever being in a relationship at all. The uncritical way this was presented, without any commentary on the subject, bothers me the way grand Disney stories aimed at kids usually do, guaranteeing a (patriarchal, heteronormative, often impossible) happy ever after without any of its downsides, like the high risk of destructive relationships, immature emotional intelligence and lack of healthy communication skills.

I don’t mind a story now and then that goes for romance over reality, but when it’s the dominant cultural narrative to the extent that it is today, then the stories that present it uncritically, especially to young people, get an extra dose of skepticism from me. It seemed extra odd to do that here when a main part of the story is that the adult relationships are all in shambles.

Anyway. I could round my rating up when I’m thinking about the art and the uncle, or round down when thinking about the cliches and grand gestures.

(It’s also wayyy more text heavy than some of the other comics/graphic novels I’ve read recently. That’s neither here nor there, nothing wrong with that, but there were a few times it felt like the authors didn’t trust the images to convey the meaning, and I like feeling that trust instead.)