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David Tung is a Chinese American high-school student in an upscale, Asian-majority, New Jersey suburb who works every day at his family’s restaurant and strategizes every homeroom about how to improve his class rank so he can get into an Ivy League college. His only release? Hanging with his “real” friends once a week at Chinese school in NYC’s working-class Chinatown. But when the pretty and popular Christina Tau asks him to a high school dance, David’s tightly regimented life gets thrown into a tailspin—especially since, as his mother likes to remind him, he’s not allowed to have a girlfriend! Should he defy his mother and go to the dance? Or defy Christina’s wishes and spend Saturday night studying for the MCATs? And how is he going to explain all this to Betty Jung, the standout pupil from Chinese School whose opinion he can’t help but care about? Ed Lin’s YA-novel debut takes on coming-of-age in the Asian diaspora with a heartwarming and humorous exploration of race, class, young love, and the contradictory expectations of immigrant parents.
A Note From the Publisher
Book illustrator: Rich Han
“David Tung, like many young Chinese Americans, must balance the expectations of his parents with the absurdities of being a modern American teen. No time for dances, hobbies, and definitely not girls. On the weekends, however, David attends Chinese school in the heart of New York’s Chinatown. Here he escapes his sheltered existence and gets a taste of what other Chinese youth—those not lucky enough to live in posh suburbs—must contend with. And here, where he least expects it, he might even find love. David’s self-deprecating humor wraps up these observations into a hilarious package. A fun and insightful read.”
“In wealthy Shark Beach, NJ, sophomore David faces parental pressure to become valedictorian of his majority Chinese American high school and attend an Ivy League college. David lives for ungraded Saturday Chinese school and his shady slacker friends there. When a popular Shark Beach girl invites David to a dance, surprise causes him to accept before remembering his parents forbid dating. While struggling for a solution, David begins to appreciate a Chinese school girl, Betty, who suffers no fools and has a Chinese American father and white mother. Can David possibly make everyone happy? Lin demonstrates David’s adeptness at code-switching. Many readers may see themselves in aspects of David’s highly pressured life, and will cheer him on in navigating his complex situation.”
—School Library Journal
“College admissions, immigrant parents, weekend Chinese school, working at his family’s restaurant, and fending off bullies are just a start for David Tung’s sophomore year at the notorious Shark Beach High. Ed Lin has conjured up a fast-paced, acid-tongued, hilarious teen drama for our age, and David Tung is a nerd-hero readers will cheer on to the end.”
—Marie Myung-Ok Lee, author of Finding My Voice
“You’ll fall hard for David Tung, a high-achieving teen with a heart of gold. Lin writes with a keen sense of character; even the most minor characters spring alive off the page. From the crowded streets of New York’s Chinatown to the McMansions of suburban Shark Beach, this joyful, funny and tender chronicle of a young man’s quest for love will resonate with readers of all ages.”
—Sheba Karim, author of Mariam Sharma Hits the Road
“This book is a complete joy. With tender and hilarious insight, Ed Lin offers an irresistible tale of first love, complete with swooning crushes, tongue-tied blunders, overbearing-but-well-meaning parents, and an outrageous cast of supporting characters only New York and New Jersey can produce. Along the way, Lin imbues David’s journey with a generous spirit and a contagious devotion to all things good in the world, making this a triumphant, uplifting read for teens and adults alike.”
—JJ Strong, author of Us Kids Know
“Equally an outsider at his cutthroat suburban high school and in Chinatown New York, the inspiring David Tung one-ups unexpected bullies, runs out of data while texting his top-secret crush, and works around the clock to live up to the expectations of his demanding parents. This heartwarming coming-of-age story proves that fitting in happens after you gather the courage to assert yourself, and will engross any reader who is chasing success while feeling pulled between worlds: old country and new, suburb and city, parent and kid. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll get straight As.”
—Chris L. Terry, author of Black Card
“Ed Lin's New Jersey is entirely Chinese American and way, way more complex and threatening than the Soprano's version of NJ. There are rich Chinese, really rich Chinese, Ivy League Chinese, super educated Chinese, and then there's David Tung who has never been on airplane, works in his family's Chinese restaurant, and ranks a shameful (according to his mother) number eight academically in his school. For Chinese American readers who survived high school, it's a hive-inducing horror movie from our past.”
— Shawn Wong, author of American Knees
“Ed Lin delightfully captures the sense of 'in-between' so many adolescents wrestle with, from wanting to make your parents proud to hating all their rules. I cringed, I cheered, I wished this book had been there for me as a teen. Teens (and adults) will identify with the earnest and likeable David Tung as he wrestles with all of the world's problems...as a sophomore in high school.”
—Jung Kim, teacher-educator and Associate Professor of Literacy at Lewis University, co-author of Using Graphic Novels in the English Language Arts Classroom
“A beautifully-observed, hilariously truthful, uplifting coming of age story which captures the heart and humanity of a Chinese American male teenager. I am impressed and inspired by Ed Lin’s achievement and wish I could’ve read this book when I was in high school.”
—David Henry Hwang, playwright of Soft Power
David Tung is getting national and international attention and media, and will be covered widely in media outlets like Teen Vogue and The Cut, along with many others.
Author Ed Lin will be embarking on a virtual book tour this Fall:
• Friday Oct 2: Internship vs Love with Marie Myung-Ok Lee at the Asian American Writers' Workshop -- part of the Brooklyn Book Festival's Bookends series.
• Friday Oct 30: Reading with Lilliam Rivera (Never Look Back) with Word Up Books. Plus David Tung is a featured book in Word Up's Youth Book Club for November.
• Sunday Nov. 1: Reading and discussion with Chris Terry (Black Card) with Skylight Books.
• Friday Nov. 6: Reading and discussion with Naomi Hirahara (Mas Arai Detective Series) with Vroman's Books.