A teen outcast is simultaneously swept up in a whirlwind romance and down a rabbit hole of dark family secrets when another Taiwanese family moves to her small, predominantly white midwestern town in this remarkable new novel from the critically acclaimed author of American Panda, which The Wall Street Journal called “weepingly funny.”
Seventeen-year-old Ali Chu knows that as the only Asian person at her school in middle-of-nowhere Indiana, she must be bland as white toast to survive. This means swapping her congee lunch for PB&Js, ignoring the clueless racism from her classmates and teachers, and keeping her mouth shut when people wrongly call her Allie instead of her actual name, pronounced Āh-lěe, after the mountain in Taiwan.
Her autopilot existence is disrupted when she finds out that Chase Yu, the new kid in school, is also Taiwanese. Despite some initial resistance due to the “they belong together” whispers, Ali and Chase soon spark a chemistry rooted in competitive martial arts, joking in two languages, and, most importantly, pushing back against the discrimination they face.
But when Ali’s mom finds out about the relationship, she forces Ali to end it. As Ali covertly digs into the why behind her mother’s disapproval, she uncovers secrets about her family and Chase that force her to question everything she thought she knew about life, love, and her unknowable future.
Snippets of a love story from nineteenth-century China (a retelling of the Chinese folktale The Butterfly Lovers) are interspersed with Ali’s narrative and intertwined with her fate.
About the Author
Gloria Chao is the critically acclaimed author of American Panda, Our Wayward Fate, and Rent a Boyfriend. When she’s not writing, you can find her with her husband on the curling ice or hiking the Indiana Dunes. She does not regret putting aside her MIT and dental degrees to write, and she is grateful to spend her days in fictional characters’ heads instead of real people’s mouths. Visit her tea-and-book-filled world at GloriaChao.Wordpress.com and find her on Twitter and Instagram @GloriaCChao.
BuzzFeed's 24 YA Books To Devour During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Paste Best Young Adult Novel of October 2019 B&N Teen Blog's October's Best YA Reads She Reads's 10 Diverse books by women to read in 2019 An Indigo Most Anticipated Teen Title
“With Our Wayward Fate, Chao establishes herself as one of the premier writers in contemporary YA. Ali’s story is one of young love, long-hidden secrets, cultural divides, and the pressure, not only to find balance between one’s history and future, but to understand how the one affects the other. No one writes family in all its beauty and complexity like Gloria Chao.” —David Arnold, New York Times bestselling author of Mosquitoland and The Strange Fascinations of Noah Hypnotik
“Chao is a master of combining humor with more serious moments in a story that's sure to stick with you for a long time.” —BuzzFeed
“Our Wayward Fate is another amazing story about juggling family expectations and what you want for yourself. If that’s not the essential teen journey, we’re not sure what is.” —Paste Magazine
“Beautifully heartbreaking.” —BookPage
“This is more than a coming-of-age novel, and readers will fall in love with Ali.” —SLJ
“Chao brings readers a witty protagonist who breaks stereotypes of Chinese Americans by simply being herself.” —Kirkus Reviews
“[An] inventive, deeply heartfelt love story that explores connections of many kinds.” —Booklist