Generational curses are difficult and complicated to confront, but what if you could time-travel back a generation? Maureen Goo, author of Marvel’s Silk series, seeks to answer this “what if” in her new, coming-of-age YA novel Throwback, which will be released on April 11.
The novel follows Samantha Kang, a Gen Z Korean American girl who constantly butts heads with Priscilla, her first-generation mother. A former notoriously popular cheerleader, mom wants her daughter to embody the same all-American high school spirit she got, even if Sam couldn’t care less. A huge argument breaks out between the two leaving Sam desperate to get away from her mom. But in a sudden twist of events, Sam time travels to the year 1995—thrown back right beside a 17-year-old Priscilla.
Sam’s mission to get back home unravels a complicated, yet heartfelt adventure that nods to the immigrant experience in 90s Los Angeles and the nuances of mother-daughter relationships in Korean American families. Between patching her family’s relationship and helping a young Priscilla become homecoming queen, Sam races against the clock to get back to 2025.
Throwback is Goo’s fifth novel and one she’s been aspiring to write, reports Publishers Weekly.
“I always knew that I wanted to write a mother-daughter book, but it took years for me to figure out a way to write one that wasn’t just overwrought with angst,” Goo told Publisher’s Weekly in an interview. “My own relationship with my mom in my teens was fraught—like Priscilla and Halmoni’s [Priscilla’s immigrant mother]—and I needed to find an entry into the subject that was fun, somehow.”
Growing up in Los Angeles during the 90s, Goo knew that she wanted to touch on all the key moments many Gen Z are nostalgic for between Priscilla’s ‘Clueless-inspired suit’ to the mentions of outdated tech. Goo and Tiffany Liao, executive editor of Zando independently housing Throwback, wanted to incorporate these references in the novel’s cover design.
“You have modern-day Sam on the cover, and then you turn the book upside down to see Priscilla in her full ’90s Cher Horowitz glory,” Liao said in Publisher’s Weekly. “It’s a subtle way to nod to the time-travel element, and the vivid palette evokes the bright, playful tone of the book.”
Writing about the past needed to also reflect the political climate of the 90s, particularly when it comes to microaggressions and racism AAPI communities faced during the era. When creating Priscilla’s character, Goo said she looked to her older cousins who were forced to assimilate with their White peers, Northwest Asian Weekly reported.
“When you’re in it, you’re just shocked,” Goo said to Northwest Asian Weekly about racism in schools. “We were not empowered (to speak up).”
Even though Throwback’s is set to debut April 11, the novel has already garnered 4.47 stars and 94 reviews on Goodreads, describing it as Back to the Future meets The Joy Luck Club. Authors like Mary H.K. Choi praised Throwback saying, “No one can blend family, humor, satire, and love into a perfect story like Maurene Goo can…”
After Tuesday, Goo will be going on a book tour starting April 12, visiting locations including Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Santa Monica, and Berkeley.
Throwback is available for presale on Zando’s website and from Bookshop.org. A small percentage of sales made through the link below go back to support AsAmNews.
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