Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Teen for the ARC. All opinions expressed are my own.
Title: Every Reason We Shouldn’t
Author: Sara Fujimura
Publication Date: March 3, 2020
Publisher: Tor Teen
Age Range: YA
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old figure skater Olivia Kennedy’s Olympic dreams have ended. She’s bitter, but enjoying life as a regular teenager instead of trying to live up to expectations of being the daughter of Olympians Michael Kennedy and Midori Nakashima…until Jonah Choi starts training at her family’s struggling rink.
Jonah’s driven, talented, going for the Olympics in speed skating, completely annoying… and totally gorgeous. Between teasing Jonah, helping her best friend try out for roller derby, figuring out life as a normal teen and keeping the family business running, Olivia’s got her hands full. But will rivalry bring her closer to Jonah, or drive them apart?
When I first found Every Reason We Shouldn’t, I thought Yes! A good ol’ Asian Ice Princess. And in some ways, this was exactly that. Olivia is “washed up” at 15, wants to feel the passion for skating the way she used to, you know, the works. Then, Jonah comes around with his gold medals and strict hard-boiled-egg-eating training regimen, and in short it lights a fire under her ass. Although there were some good pockets of comedy and the pressure to be #1 (especially as an Asian American), I was overall kinda disappointed.
I loved Mack as a side character, and Olivia and Jonah definitely had some real blush-worthy moments, but I found myself bored in the moments in between. The major themes that I could personally latch onto were Olivia’s internalized pressure of proving her worth (to herself, her parents, and everyone who knows her story), the added disappointment of parents who just don’t pay attention, and what we have to be willing to sacrifice to look out for #1. The bones were there, but there were a lot of parts that seemed thrown together.
At one point, the school goes into a lockdown and everyone is freaking out, but 1. it’s not clear just what is happening, 2. Jonah uses that to say “I love you” for the first time (through text – very normal) and 3. the situation as a whole is used to show that Olivia’s parents are just sorta absent. I see how this is meant to be a vessel for continuing development of relationships and such, but it felt so random, and unfortunately, not believable.
One of the other things that I felt kind of iffy about was the representation. Yes, almost (if not all) of Olivia’s friends at school are Asian. Yes, they are “those kids” who do homework at lunch and stress themselves out about extracurricular activities for the sake of college applications. There were a few mentions of Korean and Japanese food, and I appreciated the discussion about the Asian-American familial expectations and stereotypes, but that’s exactly what it felt like, and I can’t say I loved it? Don’t get me wrong, it was funny as hell when both Olivia and Jonah wore make up and had to take it off before they went home, and the microaggression of having your last name mispronounced and having all the White kids make fun. I just think there were a few missed opportunities, especially with Olivia being half White herself.
I definitely didn’t hate it; there were some things that made me smile and kept me reading. And I felt sort of indifferent while reading, and I was reading just to read (and I’m stubborn and feel the need to finish everything I start), which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s not the reaction I wanted to have. I’m currently reading an amazing nonfiction book about an Asian-American identity (which may be featured on the blog, so keep an eye out!) and I think that may fill some of what I was missing from Every Reason We Shouldn’t.
If you’re still in the mood for some sassy ice skaters, you can add Every Reason We Shouldn’t on Goodreads! Coming out tomorrow!
Now, onto every reason I shouldn’t do my homework for tomorrow, and with love,