Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Thank you, Simon & Schuster, for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
If my last interaction with another Asian had proved anything, it was that no one understood me, regardless of race.
Do you know what it feels like to be a special snowflake for shallow reasons such as the size of your eyes and the color of your skin? As a Filipino, I’m not a stranger to racism. Because the world today is anything but ideal. Regardless of your location, you will always encounter someone who believes in the superiority of their ancestry or heritage. Fortunately, diverse novels like this can enlighten such fools.
Our Wayward Fate takes racism to another level. Ali Chu is a Chinese-American girl who studies in a school where racism abounds. She’s virtually the only Asian on the premises until a transfer student named Chase Yu comes around. Ali and Chase quickly attract the attention of their classmates, who think that it’s only natural for them to get together. They’re both Asian, after all. Doesn’t that make you want to roll your eyes? Ali doesn’t want to validate the stereotype, but she can’t help but be curious about the mysterious Chase.
I liked this book mostly because of its overall message: There’s nothing wrong with being weird or different. For that matter, there’s nothing wrong with deviating from White standards. At first, Ali kept her culture to herself in fear of displeasing her racist peers. Her classmates thought that Chinese food was disgusting and that Ali should do something to “fix” her eyes. They also presumed that Ali and Chase were academic achievers. Since when does your race determine your proficiency in math and science? Most of the time, Ali had to act according to these irrational expectations. Eventually, with the help of Chase, Ali realized that she had been causing herself undue stress by succumbing to peer pressure.
However, Ali’s life at home was similarly tedious. Mrs. Yu often wished that Ali were a boy and forbade her to date non-Chinese guys. Ironically, when Mrs. Yu discovered Ali and Chase’s relationship, she became so angry and forced Ali to visit a “family friend” in China. Ali’s mom was the most annoying character in this book. I wasn’t surprised that her husband seemed to dislike her, too. She should have owned up to her mistakes instead of blaming him for their “poor” lifestyle. To be fair, Mr. Chu wasn’t innocent. Distancing himself from his perpetually upset wife wasn’t exactly conducive to reconciliation.
The author made an effort to prove the depth of Ali and Chase’s relationship. Still, it felt a bit instantaneous. In hindsight, #instalove was a necessary evil because Mrs. Chu’s anti-Chase behavior was significant to the plot. Nonetheless, I wish that Ali and Chase hadn’t kissed after knowing each other for only a few days. I won’t apologize for sounding old-fashioned or conservative. Haha.
Ultimately, Our Wayward Fate is like Frankly in Love minus the fake-dating trope. It explores one’s dilemma of being too Asian to be American (and vice versa). Unlike its peers, this book also features a retelling of a beloved folktale. So if you haven’t heard of The Butterfly Lovers, you’re in for a treat. Happy reading!