On March 14th every year we celebrate Hapa Day. It was created as a symbol of love for multiracial individuals of Asian and Pacific Islander descent from around the world. For the last several years, I’ve put my own spin on this celebration by putting out a list of young adult book titles that feature either a hapa* main character and/or have a hapa love interest. Why? Because my two hapa children (now 16 and 18) essentially gave up on American YA books because they didn’t see themselves represented at all.
The Hapa Day YA project originally started out as Hapa Hero Day on my son’s birthday. I was desperate to find books to show him that Asian/hapa boys can be the hero of the story, too, not just the sidekick, the tech guy, or the one forever in the Friend Zone. I found very few books to give him. Yeah, that sends a powerful negative message to our sons.
So, whether you are a hapa teen, want to understand the bicultural teen experience better, or are an adult looking for titles to hand to your own Hapa Hero or Heroine, please enjoy this Top 10 list. Want even more choices? Here are the Top 10 Books to help you celebrate Hapa Day:
- EVERYTHING EVERYTHING by Nicola Yoon (Coming to the big screen soon!)
- GADGET GIRL: THE ART OF BEING INVISIBLE by Suzanne Kamata
- CLOCKWORK PRINCE by Cassandra Clare
- LEGEND by Marie Lu
- STARTERS by Lissa Price
- JET BLACK AND THE NINJA WIND by Leza Lowitz & Shogo Oketani
- THE ISLANDS AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Austin Aslan
- ORCHARDS by Holly Thompson
- ELEANOR AND PARK by Rainbow Rowell
- HONEY GIRL by Lisa Freeman
You can see the whole (although still too short!) standing list I keep on my website: https://www.sarafujimura.com/hapa-day.html.
*Hapa, literally “half” in Hawaiian, was originally used as a derogatory term to describe people of biracial ancestry. Though some still object to the term, “Hapa” has been widely adopted by many Asian and Pacific Islander multiracial communities.
For more information about how to celebrate Hapa Day, please see our calendar: Hapa Day, 2017
I’m the American half of our Japanese-American family. I spend about a month each summer at my in-laws’ house in rural Japan with my teen-aged children. So it will be no surprise that I’ve written about Japanese culture and raising bicultural kids for such magazines as APPLESEEDS, LEARNING THROUGH HISTORY, EAST WEST, RAISING ARIZONA KIDS, and MOTHERING, as well as, writing travel-related articles for the book TO JAPAN WITH LOVE. My YA novel, TANABATA WISH, comes out in April 2017 and features a hapa boy as the love interest. Please stop by my website: Sara Fujimura