"I was fourteen and didn't want to be involved in any of this, but I was part of it as always, and as always, everyone kept asking me, What's wrong? Are you okay? Is something bothering you? At night I flung my pillow against my mattress and prayed to my fake jade statue of the Guanyin goddess to give me a different face so that people would stop looking at my current one and asking me what was the matter."
“You Fell Into The River and I Saved You!,” Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang
I read Sour Heart for a (forthcoming) review, and because of word count and sanity, I didn't get to cover all the things that the book brought up for me. On top of the often fucked-up
circumstances of their lives, many of Zhang's characters are sad, feel
like nothing, and are constantly battling big, bad emotions. In the background of several of the stories is childhood depression and the way the world treats sad and/or angry girls. I appreciated that Zhang explicitly included the pressure to be happy, which often degrades to the pressure to look happy, in her stories about identity and family. Also included is the reaction to wish to be simply left alone, make the slide through life as easy as possible, already knowing that no one, even those that love you, are likely to help. That deceptively mild feeling of wanting to change because the world isn't going to and you are tired, even though you are a kid.
Sour Heart comes out on August 1.
ETA: Here's the review!