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This newly awarded novel (Winner of the 2021 Newbery Medal, which recognizes the year's most outstanding contribution to children's literature) is a multi-faceted, although not flawless, gem. Lily and her older sister, Sam, move with their mother from California to Washington to live with their grandmother, Ae Cha, referred to throughout the book as Halmoni. What follows is a complex coming-of-age tale told by biracial Lily that wanders through Korean folklore and fantasy, exploring friendship, love, family secrets, aging, and illness. When Lily discovers that Halmoni has brain cancer, a magical tiger appears, a figure from her grandmother’s Korean folk tales, and Lily strikes a deal with the tiger to heal her ailing grandmother. A wide range of characters are featured, including the shy, 'invisible,' Lily -- who refers to herself as a QAG (Quiet Asian Girl) -- her new friend Ricky, who is on the autism spectrum, angry sister, Sam, and Sam's new girlfriend, who guide one another through their own personal struggles as they help the family face its impending loss, and together find resilience, achieve forgiveness, and discover new ways forward.
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