High school senior Frank Li is first generation Korean American. He’s grown up solidly middle class thanks to his parents’ drive. They work almost constantly as owner/operators of a store in a poor urban neighborhood an hour away. Frank’s older sister, Hanna, has become persona non grata at home (but not to Frank) since dating and marrying a Black man.
Suspended from school for challenging a teacher’s Islamophobia, West Indian/Pakistani American Zayneb spends an extended break in Doha, Qatar, with her aunt. Adam (Chinese/White) has returned to Doha for spring break from college in London.
Tired of the sexual harassment perpetrated by the swim coach at her private girls’ academy in Sydney, Amelia Westlake publishes a cartoon calling him out in the school paper. Encouraged by the approval of her fellow students, her acts of resistance (a.k.a. “pranks”) continue, and soon school administration is bent on stopping her
Jay Reguero came from the Philippines to the U.S. with his Filipino dad and American white mom as a baby. He hasn’t been back since he was 10, but has maintained a friendship with his cousin Jun across the years. When he learns Jun has died, Jay feels equal parts grief, guilt—he hadn’t written Jun much recently—and frustration: No one will tell him what happened.
Genesis’s family gets a deal on a rental in a suburb outside Detroit through a coworker of her dad’s. She loves the house but doesn’t know how long they’ll be able to stay given her dad’s history of gambling and losing the rent in his effort to get ahead: They’ve been evicted four times.
In 1965, 16-year-old Adele attends a boarding school for mixed-race students in the British protectorate of Swaziland. Her white father lives with his white wife and children, but calls and visits and pays for Adele’s schooling. Her mother, like Adele herself, is biracial (Black/white). At Adele’s school class matters most; students whose parents are able to pay tuition enjoy better treatment from staff and teachers, and are the most popular.
In this taut, mesmerizing work, the Shoveler’s mom is adept at survival but has never told him anything about his dad, and their recent move to Pennsylvania has him wondering yet again.
Mickey, a talented catcher, finds her softball dreams derailed after a car accident puts her and her best friend, pitcher Carolina, in the hospital months before their senior season. When the OxyContin Mickey is prescribed runs out sooner than it should, she stumbles upon another source: Edith, who snags Oxy from the senior citizens she drives to doctors’ appointments.
Daniela and her family illegally crossed the border into Medio when she was small. At 12, with forged citizenship papers, she was accepted into the Medio School for Girls, where students are groomed for one of two roles: Primera or Segunda—first or second wife—to the sons of wealthy, politically connected families, roles with origins in their culture’s creation story.
Although she was raised mostly by her loving grandmother, everyone seems to expect 16-year-old, Black Bahamian Indy to follow in the footsteps of her mother, who has a drug addiction and cannot provide a stable home for her daughter.