Love, Love

by Victoria Chang

“Clara was always in the Gate

Program for gifted kids

not me

when others asked my mom about us she always said Clara is

the smart one

she laughed when they asked about me

Frances is always playing

with Annie

always going to the park

always playing tennis

always wasting time

Ratings & Reviews

Book Grade: A

Verse novels are not normally my thing – to be honest, poetry scares me just a bit because I always fear that I will miss something or misinterpret a key line. Love, Love may have changed that. This charming coming-of-age story about two sisters who approach the world differently is heartwarming and contemporary.

Frances is a humble misfit who doesn’t fully understand her role in school, the world, or even her family. She is not smart like her sister, not Chinese like her parents, but not American like her classmates. With few friends and a passion for tennis that her mother finds distasteful, Frances begins to occupy her time with the case of the missing hair. You see, her sister, Clara, is losing her hair, strand by strand, and doctor’s don’t know what is causing this. The semi-autobiographical approach to the novel makes Victoria Chang’s words ring true, and watching Frances battle racism and uncertainty on a daily basis will resonate with students of all ages.

Technically, Love, Love is more of a middle grade novel, but the beautiful way in which Frances raises questions about her identity, sisterly bonds, and parental expectations allows this book to be a perfect fit for older readers, too. I zipped through this book, finding it alternately endearing and heartbreaking, and loved the additional information provided in the author’s note at the end. This is a sweet and relevant story examining what it means to be an American, a sister, and your own self.

Movie Rating: G

Love, Love discusses some deep themes, but there is nothing inappropriate. There is no swearing and are no intimate scenes. The book is designed for tween readers, so the content is entirely appropriate, but the themes will resonate with older readers as well without feeling juvenile. There is reference to some bullying and teasing at school, but Frances navigates things beautifully, especially at the end when she proves that she persists in being the better person. Love, Love really is a sweet and charming book with layers of themes and takeaways. I so appreciate that Victoria Chang brings up important issues without narrowing the audience through mature content.

Would I Buy This for My Library: Yes!

Love, Love is an ideal read for reluctant readers who are also looking for some depth. This sweet story focuses on the bond of sisters and finding yourself. It is a quick and easy read that I know will be popular among students who are looking for poetry, verse novels, and contemporary identity books. I am so excited to recommend Love, Love to my students, and help them discover the power of poetry, as I did. This is worth every penny and beautifully addresses issues that YA readers likely have on their mind in a way that is approachable and resonant.

Summary:

Frances Chin doesn’t fit in. She is the youngest in her class and can never quite match up to her older sister, Clara, in the eyes of her parents. Frances doesn’t feel smart enough, American enough, pretty enough, or have enough friends. According to her Chinese immigrant parents, she doesn’t speak enough, doesn’t work hard enough, and is trying too hard to be American. When Love, Love begins, Frances is just trying to survive school and stay under the radar so that she doesn’t get teased.

As the verse novel unfolds, though, Frances becomes determined to figure out why Clara’s hair is falling out. Strand by strand, Clara is losing her hair, and when her wig is stolen, Frances makes it her mission to solve this mystery. Teaming up with her best friend Annie – the Bess to Frances’ Nancy Drew – the two plot to unravel the mystery of the missing hair.

Between Frances’ beloved tennis matches, the two plan to gather clues about their mystery. While they aren’t getting much traction, Frances does catch the eye of a local tennis coach who sees her aptitude and natural talent. While Frances tries to juggle her heritage, school, tennis, and the mysterious disappearance of Clara’s hair, she comes to better understand her sister in a sweet and unexpected twist and finds where she really belongs.

Book Talk Questions:

  1. Why does Frances feel so out of place? How do the kids at school treat her?
  2. When Frances and Annie look for the wig, they can’t find it. What do they find and what do they eventually realize happened to the wig?
  3. Where does the title of the book come from? How does this reflect a change in Frances’ life?
  4. What happened to Clara’s hair? What does Frances do when she finds out?
  5. What happens when Frances’ mom comes to school to make egg rolls? How does Frances prove her strength?
  6. Race and ethnicity play large roles in this book. Explain how they influence Frances and her family, and shape her view of the world.

A Perfect Read for Fans Of…

  • Solo by Kwame Alexander
  • Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
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