Cover Image: Throwback


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Member Reviews

I’ve loved everything that I’ve read from Zando publishing so far, so when I saw this offering I was intrigued- “Back to the Future meets The Joy Luck Club in this YA contemporary romance about a Korean American girl sent back to the '90s to (reluctantly) help her teenage mom win Homecoming Queen “.

I also love YA fiction when you don’t know you’re reading a book written for YA-one that defies categorisation-so at first I was a little put off by the voice, as you can definitely tell this is written for 13-17 year olds. In saying that, I’m glad I persevered, as I ended up really enjoying this sweet and poignant tale of the teenage child of first generation Asian American immigrants.

I was drawn to the viewpoint of an Asian American youth, being an Asian Australian myself and having felt at times like I’m straddling two cultures, we’ve shared some of the same experiences and it feels so good to have your voice represented.

I’m a 40 year old woman so I’m more Priscilla’s age (her mother), as I was a teenager in the 90s, and I think the author really captured the essence of the time in terms of music, fashion and language perfectly.

It was also a love letter to her Korean heritage, and some of my favourite passages were the descriptions of delicious Korean food and certain aspects of Korean culture.

It was a homage to the movies and books of our childhoods (lots of Marty McFly references, as obviously Back to the Future is the landmark for time travel tales), and discussed themes like racism, family relations and parental and cultural expectations. It was also a funny look at the changes in technology and communication we’ve experienced in the past 30 years .

I’m not the target audience as romcoms aren’t usually my thing, and I’m not a young adult, so some of the book felt a bit cheesy, but if I was 13-16, I would have loved it.

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My maiden Maurene Goo experience! While I loved the concept of the fraught relationship between Priscilla and Sam, the execution was somewhat lacking. I might just be projecting too much but I was never fully rooting for Sam, which is like, the core conceit! Her Gen Z self assuredness that 2025 is morally & socially better in every way was just sooo grating after a while (although if she was from 2015 I would have probably loved all the references so. who knows). The happily ever after ending was sweet, as was Sam's realization that she herself, not her mom & grandmother, had changed through her interventions. The exploration of the conflicted history between Priscilla and her own mom (shattering Sam's perspective that she's the Perfect Grandmother in contrast with the Wicked Mother) was also tasty. I'll definitely be recommending to my patrons, if only to get their opinion on whether the slang usage is cloying or true!

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Oh GAWD I loved this book so much. I cried so much. I identified so much with the daughter and mother who just had a terrible time trying to understand each other. It makes complete sense that the daughter would have to travel back in time to get to know her teenage mother in order to really see her, and how she became the strict, seemingly uncaring mother of her present day. And the romance in this book is so sweet and supportive. Lastly, I will say that I also really appreciated the grandmother's role in this book. I love an intergenerational Asian story because it feels true to how Asians are raised. Family first, even when things are difficult, and especially when things are difficult. Maurene Goo really understands what it means to be a teenage girl.

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Another wonderfully humorous and moving book from Maurene Goo!

Sam does not understand her mother. She doesn't get why her mom is so obsessed with Sam having that perfect American high school life. With pouring rain and thunderstorm in the background, Sam gets in a huge fight with her mom. She's stranded and needs a ride to school. But when she enters school, she finds herself thrown back to thirty years ago to 1995. There she meets her a teenager.

Sam navigates this new world of antiquated ideas and new friendship with her mother as she tries to get back to her time period. <i>Throwback</i> explores the different experiences of each generation and what it means for them to be Asian American. This story paints the matrilineal relationship beautifully and resonates so much with me. It's something that I've come to understand, to look deeper to find the reasons why our parents act the way they do and to let go of past grievances.

<i>Throwback</i> has the themes of <i>The Joy Luck Club</i> but builds on that so that it resonates more with the younger generation. This was such an enjoyable read.

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Have you ever felt like a book was made for you? When I first read the synopsis of Throwback which included the words: “Back to the Future meets The Joy Luck Club” and “Korean American…‘90s…help her teenage mom,” I knew I had found the one. Imagine my delight spending my New Year’s Day 2023 being thrown back to the ‘90s and so immersed in the story that I read the book in one sitting.

After a huge fight with Mom, Samantha Kang finds herself back in the ‘90s. When she meets her mother, Priscilla, in high school, she needs to figure out how to fix things for her family and get back home.

First, let’s talk about the time travel element. My favorite movie? Back to the Future (thanks Mama Park for introducing it to me ❤️). Every Back to the Future reference I spotted put a huge smile on my face. Apparently replacing Marty with a Korean American girl who wants to heal the relationship with her mom instead of helping your parents hook up is something I never thought I would read about, but I’m so glad it exists. I give Sam major props for dealing with the time travel situation with such productivity and motivation (with some teen angst of course). Her level of resourcefulness is an inspiration. Time travel can cause confusion (I question everything—how is this one act influencing their future?), but Maurene Goo wrote the events in a clever way and made it so fun to experience the ‘90s with Sam with all of its different trends and colloquialisms. She also wrote each of the characters with different personalities, strengths, and flaws, so they felt real. I loved witnessing all of the characters help each other grow.

Next, the mother-daughter dynamic. As someone who is immensely close with her Korean immigrant mother, I was very curious to read about Sam and Priscilla’s relationship, especially since I would relate more to Priscilla as a 30+ year old Korean American. I had so much fun seeing their mother-daughter relationship blossom in a unique way. I was impressed with how Goo made me feel and root for every generation from Sam to Priscilla to Halmoni (grandma), and see elements of myself, my umma, and my halmoni in these characters. From the heavier conversations and how each generation experiences life in America differently to their smallest yet meaningful interactions like sharing a home cooked meal—it all felt nostalgic, like a homecoming for me. It meant a lot to see these details conveyed similarly to how I think about and have experienced them.

Goo also manages to incorporate serious themes about racism, misogyny, and the nuances of growing up in the US as a child of immigrants while also infusing lighthearted moments, which made me feel all the emotions (happiness, hurt, anger) along with Sam. I laughed and cried several times throughout the book, and was genuinely surprised at some unexpected twists.

This book is for readers who are in the mood for a heartfelt and entertaining YA contemporary about a mother-daughter relationship with a creative time travel element and a dash of romance.

Thank you to Maurene Goo, Zando, and NetGalley for the digital ARC. All opinions are my own.

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In this contemporary YA, Samantha 'Sam' Kang doesn't understand her tight-laced mother. After a fight, a strange ride share ends up taking her back in time where she meets her mother as a teen. Sam ends up thinking she needs to make things right in 1995 by helping her mother win Homecoming queen. Her assumptions about her mother and even her beloved grandmother are put to the test in more ways than one.

What worked: BACK TO THE FUTURE collides in 1995. There are numerous 1990s references throughout this novel from the movie Clueless and even life before texting! Like actually going to a public library's archives! These bring to life the whole Back-to-the-future vibe in this novel. The future slams into the past with some hilarious results. Then there's a cute boy that Sam feels chemistry with. He has his own secrets.

I liked the idea of an Asian protagonist going back in time to help her younger version of her mother. There Sam finds that her mother is labeled a poseur and snob as she hangs with her wealthier white classmates. The big reveal though is she sees another side of the grandmother she adores and finds that maybe her mother had been right.

I do wonder though if Sam went back in time wouldn't there have been more of a ripple effect in the present time? There are a few hints of this, but I also wondered if there might have been more.

Sam is spunky and determined to make things right so she can return back to her time. I loved how she didn't back down from the bullies at her mother's high school. It would have been so easy to do that.

Charming, fun story where a teen goes back to 1995 to help her then-teen mother and finds not only herself but her mother in the process.

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I loved this! It's the kind of novel that makes me feel bad for the people who write off YA, because this is what they're missing out on. It's ultimately a story about mother-daughter relationships and growing up as first and second generation. My cheap ass would even consider purchasing it to re-read

The story takes place (at least, it starts off taking place) in 2025, so the main character Sam is verrry Gen-Z. She ends up traveling back 30 years in time and meeting her mother as a teenager. Think Back to the Future (minus the incest jokes) meets Freaky Friday (minus the body swap).

Keeping in mind that I was barely cognizant in 1995, I thought the culture shock Sam felt in the past was believable. Goo leans heavily on pointing out the different colloquialisms, but it didn't feel excessive. In fact, I felt Goo was a bit too conservative when it came to depicting the more blatent acts of racism, sexism, and homophobia in 1990s California (although the micro-aggressions experienced by the main characters felt depressingly real).

Goo is very, very funny, and her writing is sensitive and heartfelt, and the story is so fun. I loved the B-plot romance, and presenting a non-binary character's pronouns with no explanation was SO REFRESHING. I hope it gets the attention it deserves.

Thank you to Maurene Goo and NetGalley for the ARC.

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I loved this book!! I think this is Maureen Goo's best book yet. I loved the mother-daughter relationship and thought the time travel aspects were very well done. Additionally, Sam is such a fun main character to follow.

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Thank you to Zando and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Throwback by Maurene Goo is an #ownvoices YA book with a time-travel twist. The story revolves around Samantha Kang, who has never gotten along with her mother Priscilla. One day, to her surprise, she finds herself back in the 90's with her teenage mother. Can Samantha figure out how to help her mother and get back to the present?

Here is an atmospheric excerpt from the Prologue:

"My phone battery was at 7 percent and my dress was too small for me.
I resisted the urge to tug at the red sheat that was clinging to my butt and panic about the battery thing. Concentrate at the task at hand.
My eyes skimmed the crowd.
The homecoming dance may have been in the gym, but the dance committee had done it up so that it was pretty dreamy. Metallic streamers were draped across the room, past the basketball hoops and framed jerseys, and silver balloons obscured the bleachers."

Overall, Throwback is an absolutely amazing #ownvoices YA book that will give you all of the feels. It will appeal to fans of To All the Boy I Loved Before and 90's chick flicks. One highlight of this book is the amazing twists. I wasn't sure about how I felt about this book at the beginning, especially because I'm not usually a fan of time travel books. But by the end, I realized it was worth sticking it out.

Another highlight of this book is how cinematic this book is. I could totally see this book being adapted into a Netflix movie! In the end, I am so happy to have read this book. I really enjoyed it, and I am so happy to support an Asian-American author. If you're intrigued by the excerpt above, or if you're a fan of YA books in general, I highly recommend that you check out this book when it comes out in April!

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Time travel is cool again!

Samantha Kang, high school senior, knows she's not the golden child of her family, and she regularly butts heads with her mother Priscilla, who still wants to fit into that all-American life but hides it behind a cool composure. Sam would rather spend time with her understanding Halmoni, but when Halmoni has a heart attack and ends up in a coma, the tension between Sam and her mom erupt -- over Sam's refusal to run for homecoming queen. Their fight leaves Sam stranded in the rain, and when her rideshare from the Throwback app shows up, she gets a ride to school -- back to 1995 and Priscilla's senior year, so she can fix what went wrong in the past.

This was a fun and heartwarming read with a creative, Back-to-the-Future-ish way of bridging the generation gap between mom and daughter. Sam goes all in to help Priscilla win homecoming queen, believing it will heal the wounds between her mom and her Halmoni, but her experience in the '90s reveals to Sam just how much racism and sexism she doesn't have to deal with in 2025. The story also shines a loving light on how the Korean-American experience can differ between generations and gives Sam insight into how to develop a more understanding relationship with her mother.

Loved the characters, loved the plot (and how the time travel worked), loved the sweet romance, loved the mother-daughter bonding. 4.5 stars rounded up.

Thank you, Zando Young Readers and NetGalley, for providing an eARC of this book. Opinions expressed here are solely my own.

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This was such a fun read! It was like an updated Back to the Future revamp, but instead of getting mom and dad back together, it focuses more on healing mother-daughter relationships. Teens will love this too, but as an adult who went to high school in the late 90s, this book was absolutely delightful. I love how Maurene Goo highlighted some really fundamental questions for a modern teen trying to navigate the world back in the 90s. It feels crazy for me to say it was decades ago, but it was, and technology is insanely advanced compared to back then. The story was very wholesome and heartfelt. What teenager didn't wish they could understand their crazy parents? I loved that Sam got to see not just her mom but also her grandmother in newer and deeper ways. This book was funny, sweet, and full of all the great pieces you love from a Maurene Goo novel. I've never read a book by her that I didn't love, and I do believe this cover will look A-MA-ZING next to all my other Goo novels!

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First of all, thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance copy of this book. Generally speaking, there isn't a Maurene Goo book I've read that I haven't liked. This one, though, may be my favorite of them all. I'm a sucker for parents and kids finding a way to see things from the other's perspective, and even though the time travel forced me to suspend my disbelief a lot (as all time travel stories do -- there are just so many questions that pop up), this story still delivered. The 90s felt genuine, and though Priscilla seemed a little quick to accept Sam into her circle, I still went with it. My only concern with Throwback is that it might appeal more to moms looking for a bit of nostalgia than to teens. I'm looking forward to putting it into student hands to find out!

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I wanted to enjoy this one but felt the overall mystery, plot and characters hard to relate to. I can totally see the potential here though, I might just not be the target audience.

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