A high school senior navigates messy boys, messier relationships, and the struggle of never quite living up to her Taiwanese mother’s expectations.
A modern Judy Blume meets Jenny Han, Boys I Know is a raw and realistic look into the lives of teen girls, examining the complex overlap between teen sexuality and Asian American identity. A sharp and unflinchingly honest journey of self-discovery.
June Chu has always been the “just good enough” girl. Good enough to line the shelves with third-place trophies and steal secret kisses from her AP Bio partner, Rhys. But not good enough to meet her mother’s unrelenting expectations, or get Rhys to commit.
While June’s mother insists she follow in her (perfect) sister’s footsteps and get a (full-ride) violin scholarship, June doesn’t see the point in trying too hard if she’s destined to fall short anyway. Instead, she focuses her efforts on making her relationship with Rhys “official.”
But after her methodically planned, tipsily executed scheme explodes on the level of a nuclear disaster, she flings herself into a new relationship with a guy who’s not allergic to the word girlfriend.
As the line between sex and love blurs, and pressure to map out her entire future threatens to burst, June will have to decide on whose terms she’s going to live her life—even if it means fraying her relationship with her mother beyond repair.
★ “The panoply of supporting characters in this story that explores sexuality, gender roles, and relationships is finely drawn, and June is a winning protagonist with a lively, appealing voice that renders the repartee between her and her flinty, anxious mother simultaneously infuriating, hilarious, and poignant. A fresh tale about a teen’s struggles to define herself.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
★ “Gracia employs a whirlwind pace that complements June’s myriad triumphs and failures; a large, vibrant cast; and a true-to-life teen voice to explore societal gender roles, racism, and sexuality while artfully depicting one teenager’s search for herself amid cultural and familial pressures.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
★ “[A] refreshingly sex-positive coming-of-age YA novel. . . . June’s cultural backdrop is poignantly prominent. . . . Microaggressions and other characters’ questioning of Asian Americans’ authenticity are also tactfully incorporated. Throughout, June’s drive to choose a college for herself–not for a boy or her parents–serves as an accessible framework around which this bold debut takes place, and touts the difficulty and importance of self-reflection.”—Shelf Awareness, Starred Review
“ This novel is sure to resonate with teens who haven’t yet found their calling and who are trying to figure out who they are. . . . A good and relevant purchase for all high school collections.”—School Library Journal
“Fresh, funny, and fearless—a knockout novel about finding the courage to declare your place in the world.”—Sarah Kuhn, From Little Tokyo, with Love
“An honest, humorous story full of candor that explores the pressures of growing up Asian American, teen identity and sexuality, and finding room to forge your own path when you have no life roadmap. Gracia doesn’t shy away from the awkwardness, messiness and confusion of adolescence—perfect for fans of Sonia Hartl and David Yoon.”—Suzanne Park, Sunny Song Will Never be Famous
“Funny, sex-positive, and poignant. Boys I Know is an honest coming of age story about identity, sexuality, and the often-complicated parts of growing up and finding yourself. A touching exploration of the way teens navigate different relationships in their lives, and what it really means to not settle.”—Sonia Hartl, The Lost Girls
BISAC 1: YAF058040 Young Adult Fiction – Social Themes – Dating & Sex
BISAC 2: YAF011000 Young Adult Fiction – Coming Of Age
BISAC 3: YAF046130 Young Adult Fiction – People & Places – United States – Asian American