First Second | 9 January 2024 | 352 pgs
Source: Purchased 

Gene Luen Yang, together with LeUyen Pham, collaborated on this graphic novel about a story of family, friendship and Iove set in the atmosphere of Lunar New Year.

Valentina Tran lives with her father since young and her favourite holiday used to be Valentine's Day but has given up on love after learning that her family is cursed with love for generations. Despite this, she spent her childhood days bringing love to her classmates by leaving them handmade Valentine's cards and befriending an imaginary friend in the form of Cupid. Sadly, her efforts aren't appreciated and as the time goes her imaginary friend morph from a good-spirited cherub to a ghoulish St. Valentine, taunting her about true love and giving her a year to find it or give up her heart to him so she'll never be hurt again. Then a chance encounter leads her to a pair of lion dancers and one of them sparks something in her. Could this be true love and is she able to break the family curse forever? 

I enjoyed reading this graphic novel a lot! There's so much to love about this book, starting with the vivid illustrations and the cast of characters that drew me in. And of course I've to mention about the Lunar New Year setting since I read this during the festive holidays and the spirit and culture of lion dancing further adds a strong atmosphere of the holiday celebrations through the bold illustrations and I could imagine myself hearing the sound of the gongs and drums as I flipped through the pages. 

While this is a story about love, there are also a few memorable moments about Valentina's friendship with her bestie as well as Valentina's interactions with her grandmother. Valentina's transformation is perfectly defined as we see her transcend from a phase to another through her growing experience. Overall it was a heartwarming and a moving story which will remain in my mind for some time and I hope to see more collaboration works by Gene Luen Yang and LeUyen Pham in the near future. 
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6 Responses
  1. Lark Says:

    What a perfect book to read during the Lunar New Year! I don't read a lot of graphic novels, but this one looks cute.

  2. Melody Says:

    Lark - I do read graphic novels or mangas from time to time and they're a joy to read. Always enjoy the beautiful illustrations. :)

  3. Harvee Says:

    Would love to see the illustrations. Will look for the book.

  4. I am always on the look out for new graphic novels to try and I really think I would like this one.

  5. Melody Says:

    Harvee - I hope you'll enjoy reading this book, Harvee.

  6. Melody Says:

    Wendy - I've enjoyed Gene Luen Yang's other graphic novel and this is the first time I read LeUyen Pham's work. Will have to check out her books as well in future.

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