Fujimura, Sara. Every Reason We Shouldn’t. Tor Teen, 2020. 332p. ISBN: 9781250204073. $17.99. MS, HS ****
Olivia is a biracial Japanese and white figure skater trying to adjust to regular schooling after a terrible crash and burn on her last performance. That fall was devastating, but if she’s being realistic, that was probably the last skate of her career anyway since her partner has gone off to college. Olivia’s trying to make friends and get good grades while also working at the skating rink owned by her famous Olympian parents. Meanwhile, Jonah is the new kid in town, a biracial Korean and white, short track speed skater whose family is paying top dollar to use the rink. He has a one-in-a-million talent, the kind Olivia used to think she had. The two end up at the same lunch table at school and suddenly they have to figure out how to fit in skating, friendships, school, family, and maybe even a little bit of love. But between huge aspirations for their skating careers and drama within their families nothing is guaranteed.
This is a cute contemporary romance with a sporty twist. Nearly the entire cast is Asian and the book takes on stereotypes about Asian teens and biracial teens very directly. I was surprised to see such a direct approach from a white author, though as the writer is a mother of biracial children it makes sense. The characters are not as fully dimensional as I might have liked and one can forgive their narrow focus because they are world-class athletes. The ensemble cast does include roller derby skaters, interesting family dynamics, and some less extraordinary teens to offset the superstar power of the protagonists. It is a relatively tame book with no cursing, drinking or drugs, and no more romance then some heavy petting. With a sweet romance and positive messages about balancing your dreams against reality and trying to identify what you really want in life, this book will be at home in collections for middle or high school readers.
–Andrea Mullarkey, Berkeley Public Library – Tarea Hall Pittman South Branch