Two Can Play that Game by Leanne Yong, Can be read in a few days depending on your speed, Young Adult Romance
It’s the first review for Aussie April! And we’re starting with Leanne Yong’s adorable and super nerdy (in the best way possible) debut novel, Two Can Play that Game.
TCPTG has a lot of what you want in a young adult romance with Asian characters. You’ve got two eldest Asian characters. You’ve got sibling love. You’ve got avoiding the Auntie Network. You’ve got a classic “you’re being a jerk” meet cute (not that Sam and Jay will admit that). You’ve got cheeky banter and loveable characters. You’ve got Australia-Malaysian rep. And you’ve got a “who’s better” competition.
When you put that all together, you get a book that is a great cross between Lillie Vale’s Beauty and the Besharam and Julian Winter’s Right Where I Left You. So, if you’re a fan of either of those, I think you’ll really like this one.
As not a gamer, I enjoyed learning about the technical side of gaming (and escape rooms!) and the process of pitching games to potential developers. And with so many stereotypes around what Asian kids are “allowed” to do, it was nice to read a book that celebrates the simple fact that being Asian makes one Asian enough.
Also, can we take a moment to appreciate that Yong wrote Sam to be a demi character? The way Sam explains her confusion over romantic attraction, but also how her romantic attraction unfolds is so well done. Because demiromantic/sexual is not well understood (or, frankly, as publicly discussed as other identities), we really need more demi characters in books and TCPTG is a great example of why that representation matters and how to do it well.
To be honest, I struggled writing this review. Partly because all I want to do is tell you how cute this book is and how much fun it was to read and that you should just trust me and read it! But also partly because there’s a lot about the Asian diasporic/child of immigrants experience that is captured so beautifully in the book that is hard to put into words. So, hopefully I’ve done enough to convince you to pick it up! P.S. If anyone figures out the code/puzzle in the acknowledgements, can you please tell me the answer?