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3. Announcing My Second Book!
Introducing Ruby Chu and her world
Happy October! I’m loving this first rush of fall: the changing of the leaves, the first chill in the air when I set out for my morning commute, the need to pick up every pumpkin-flavored thing at the grocery store. September and the beginning of October were wonderfully busy — I got to attend events, see some lovely friends, and just in general get the thrill of feeling like an author in the city. Now that it’s mid-October, I’m so so ecstatic to share a huge thing I’ve been waiting to tell you about ever since, well, forever.
SO. My second book!!!!
I’m writing another middle grade!!!
It’s out May 16, 2023, from Quill Tree Books!
(Look at she!!! I have been staring at this cover non-stop since I’ve gotten it, it truly is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my inbox)
It’s the summer after seventh grade, and Ruby Chu is feeling more lost than ever.
Her best friends aren’t speaking to her. She ended the year in detention. Her sister’s about to leave for college. Ruby’s still grieving her grandfather, Ye-Ye, when it seems like no one else is. And without Ye-Ye and his annual scavenger hunts across their hometown of San Francisco, their hometown doesn’t really feel like home anymore.
Things get worse when Ruby’s forced to spend the summer with her distant grandmother, Nai-Nai, in Chinatown. But the looming shutdown of a beloved former scavenger hunt stop, May’s Bakery, and a secret about Nai-Nai threaten to change everything. Though Ruby feels out of place, maybe this summer of forming unexpected friendships and fighting to save the bakery will help Ruby reconnect with the world — and discover what it means to find home again.
The Story of Ruby Lost and Found
RUBY LOST AND FOUND is a story I always say is “‘The Joy Luck Club’ as a middle grade book”. I didn’t know how much I’d wanted to write it until I did. There are many roots to this story; the deepest and furthest-stretching influences were my weekends spent in Chinatown when I was growing up near Chicago. That place and the bakery we visited every time now lives in the nostalgic corner of my brain. When I used to travel with my family, they used to search high and low for a Chinatown, or any hint of Chinese food in the city. I used to be confused, but now I realize — food is home, and when you’re in a place you don’t know, you go out of your way to find your home.
When I was in the Bay Area for college, I was in that period of freshman year where everything is very exciting and very overwhelming. I felt like I was adrift, in my own identity and in my sense of place. One of the first weekends one of the orientation activities we did was to go into San Francisco on a scavenger hunt activity. As we walked up and down the hilly streets and traversed the city, I came across the Dragon Gate of Chinatown and stopped. There it was: this other pocket in a home across the country where I grew up. (The history of Chinatowns is fascinating, too, but that’s something I’d love get to another day).
I also love multigenerational family stories. I adore my own grandparents dearly. In the summer before my junior year of college, I was working in Washington D.C. and saw the movie The Farewell in a basement theater with a friend. After the movie ended we just sat in that basement with the lights coming back on, weeping. I loved seeing the main character’s relationship with her grandmother and missed my own late grandmother very much. Later on I knew I wanted to write a story about a girl and her grandmother. I also knew I wanted to write a story about a big, sprawling family — not only in the sense of the traditional family unit with people who are related by birth, but also a big found family, one with friends and community members and a crowd of loving grandmothers and aunties who bicker over card games and always sneak you desserts. I also wanted to write a story about memory as well: then memory of places you grow up in, and what happens when those places and those memories begin to shift away.
That is how RUBY LOST AND FOUND came about: as a love letter to Chinatowns, a love letter to San Francisco, a love letter to grandparents and found family, and a love letter to my own personal history and where I came from.
I’m so very excited to share it with you come May. <3