Book Review (ARC): Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao

As a Taiwanese American myself, I’m always ecstatic at the opportunity to read an #OwnVoices story that highlights the Asian American experience. Our Wayward Fate was a heartfelt story that explored themes of identity and family.  🦋

Truthfully, I’m not the biggest fan of Gloria Chao’s writing so while I adored the messages and plotline, I didn’t love the execution. 😕 In the end, I think this will come down to the reader’s writing preference so I would still urge for you to give it a chance! 


PUBLISHED BY Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster) on October 15th 2019

GENRES: Contemporary

PAGES: 320


Seventeen-year-old Ali Chu knows that as the only Asian person at her school in middle-of-nowhere Indiana, she must be bland as white toast to survive. This means swapping her congee lunch for PB&Js, ignoring the clueless racism from her classmates and teachers, and keeping her mouth shut when people wrongly call her Allie instead of her actual name, pronounced Āh-lěe, after the mountain in Taiwan.

Her autopilot existence is disrupted when she finds out that Chase Yu, the new kid in school, is also Taiwanese. Despite some initial resistance due to the “they belong together” whispers, Ali and Chase soon spark a chemistry rooted in competitive martial arts, joking in two languages, and, most importantly, pushing back against the discrimination they face.

But when Ali’s mom finds out about the relationship, she forces Ali to end it. As Ali covertly digs into the why behind her mother’s disapproval, she uncovers secrets about her family and Chase that force her to question everything she thought she knew about life, love, and her unknowable future.

Snippets of a love story from nineteenth-century China (a retelling of the Chinese folktale The Butterfly Lovers) are interspersed with Ali’s narrative and intertwined with her fate.

Our Wayward Fate follows the life of 17-year-old Ali Chu, a Taiwanese-American teenage girl who grew up in small-town in Indiana as the only Asian in her school until the arrival of Chase Yu. Quickly, a romance develops between the two characters and all seems well until Ali’s mother forbids their relationship, unraveling a web of family secrets and a journey of discovery.  

Gloria Chao’s writing style follows a stream-of-consciousness flow, and while I found it easy to read and thought that it led to several introspective moments, it also felt overly rambly and a bit immature.

The story also explores themes of identity, and I personally enjoyed reading about the different experiences Ali Chu had growing up in Midwest American in comparison to my own experience in Los Angeles. 💔 Gloria Chao captures with such intensity Ali’s feelings of isolation and alienation from her classmates. 

The family dynamics throughout the story were difficult to read at times because it often got messy, yet at the same time, you can’t deny how REAL miscommunication and different beliefs between immigrant parents and their children exists. 

In terms of romance, I thought that it was much better executed than Gloria Chao’s debut novel, American Panda. It was a lot less insta-lovey and had a lot more dimension which made it much easier to root for the two protagonists.

 Overall, while I personally didn’t love this story with all my heart, I still appreciated its messages and unique plotline. ☁️ Your ultimate star rating and thoughts on this story will likely come down to your writing style preference so I hope you still give it a try!

Have you read Our Wayward Fate?

What were your thoughts?

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15 thoughts on “Book Review (ARC): Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao

  1. Aw.. I loved reading this review. I enjoyed American Panda, although I acknowledge it could improve in some areas. But I loved reading your thoughts on this book, it sounds like it captured lots of important feelings with a cute romances. I’m sorry you couldn’t love, love this book though but sometimes writing styles just aren’t for you.
    I’m excited to see Choa’s new book, ‘Rent a Boyfriend’ as well!! It sounds so fun!! Great review!! ❤


    1. Ahh yes!! I’m glad you could understand all my thoughts 💖 I’m still super excited for Gloria Chao and want to promote her #ownvoices story, but I also have to honest that the writing style just wasn’t for me. I’m really hoping the next one will be a better fit!!


  2. I didn’t know Gloria Chao had a new book that’s exciting! I wanted so badly to love American Panda because of the Taiwanese-American main character (yay for Taiwanese American representation) but struggled so hard to get through it. Definitely intrigued by this one but I’ll probably take forever to get to it like I always do 😂


    1. Ahhh I feel the same way just like you!! I read it exactly for the Taiwanese American rep for myself, but I really didn’t enjoy the story. I think this one is much better, but the writing style fo the author just might not be a fit!


  3. although our wayward fate wasn’t as instalovey as american panda, i still thought the romance between ali and chase progressed wayyy too fast. he asks her out right after their first kung foo practice, and at the beginning i couldn’t feel the chemistry between them at all. however, as you said, it has a unique plotline, which i really enjoyed, and i also liked that topics that are rarely discussed in young adult fiction, like arranged marriages and the generation gap between parents and their children are explored in the book. 😀


    1. I KNOW!! i felt the same way. it definitely wasn’t as bad as american panda, but i honestly think gloria chao’s books just aren’t for me. 🤧


  4. As an Asian American, I’m also happy whenever I see an #OwnVoices story that highlights the Asian-American experience. It’s especially neat that this one presents the viewpoint of a Taiwanese-American teen. I haven’t read this Our Wayward Fate. While it seems that one’s enjoyment will come down to preference for writing style, it’s great to hear that the plotline is unique and the romance has more dimension.


    1. i feel the same way!! i’m always big on supporting asian american own voices story, and this one has a really interesting plotline. the writing style unfortunately just wasn’t for me :/


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