Hello everyone! I know I have been a little lax with my Woven in Books post and I apologize for that. I have been a little busy but I promise to be consistent from now on. Now onto today’s post! Today on the blog we have Caitlin @ Caitlin Althea who is recommending books set in non-Western countries. I love these recommendations so much!
Woven in Books is a feature in which I highlight diverse books, authors and creators. There are guest posts and recommendation posts and blogger and author interviews! Check out the previous posts HERE!
Now onto Caitlin!
I live in the Philippines, which makes me an international blogger. Not having access to a good library, rarely receiving physical ARCs, and being unable to attend book events are just some of the struggles of being one.
I love reading Western-published books as much as the next person, and have fully accepted that almost all of them (that aren’t high fantasy) take place in America or Europe. However, as a reader who lives nowhere near America or Europe, it can be frustrating to always read about countries that I’ve never been to.
That is why I want to recommend three YA books (two contemporary, one historical fiction) written by authors of color that do not take place in Western countries today. It’s a balm to my international reader soul whenever I read a book that doesn’t take place in the West!
This is a murder mystery set in Joseon-Era Korea, and the setting really contributed to the atmosphere. I dare you to read this book and not feel like you’re underwater, or like fog is rising up from its pages. I may be biased because I’ve watched a few k-dramas set in Joseon, but I absolutely loved the unique setting and time period. It was obvious that June Hur puts lots of research into writing it!
The mystery was so well plotted, and I wasn’t able to guess the real culprit at all! Seol was also an amazing main character to follow. The way she was raised and her life circumstances do not leave many opportunities for her character to have agency, yet June Hur was able to give her loads of it in such a genuine manner.
Ever Wong’s strict Asian parents ship her off to Taiwan in order to study Mandarin, and there, Ever experiences first love, heartbreak, and a whole lot of teen drama. I totally understand why this book has gotten mixed reviews. There are definitely some things that it could’ve handled better (some of which include: a toxic best friend, grey-area cheating, and mental illness representation).
It’s probably because I’m East Asian, but reading a coming-of-age story starring an East Asian girl and almost all-Asian cast meant so much to me, since most of the coming-of-age stories I’ve read follow white protagonists. (And if the protagonist is a person of color, they’re usually surrounded by white people, which I can’t relate to because I live in Asia.) Yes, there is a lot of drama in this book, but 1) it’s entertaining to read about if you just shut your brain off and enjoy the show, and 2) I think Asian characters should be allowed to be messy the same way white characters are. Also, I may be biased because the guy I was rooting for in the love triangle ended up with Ever, hehe.
This is probably the only Western-published book I’ve ever read that takes place in the Philippines!! I actually think that it’s perfect for fans of The Hate U Give, since both tackle important issues.
Patron Saints of Nothing sheds light on the extra-judicial killings going on here the Philippines. It follows Jay, a Fil-Am who travels to the Philippines in order to learn more about what happened to his cousin Jun, who was killed in President Duterte’s War on Drugs. (His War on Drugs is just one of the many things that make him a bad president… but we won’t get into that today. 🙃) I absolutely love this book’s message that the Drug War isn’t just one country’s problem, but a human rights violation—something we should care about no matter where we live.
Caitlin (she/her) is a teen Chinese book blogger who has lived in the Philippines her entire life. Since reading and blogging are her only interesting hobbies, when not doing any of those things, you’ll most likely find her snacking on junk food or playing with her dog Gordon. You can also find her on Twitter @caitlinalthea.
Caitlin Althea is Caitlin’s love letter to books and blogging. It’s basically Caitlin’s journal—but interactive, since you can comment on the books she reads and her life choices.
Have you read any of these books?
Which book set in a non-Western country do you love?