Diversity Spotlight Thursday #13 – Southeast Asian Protagonists


Welcome to my thirteenth Diversity Spotlight Thursday! This wonderful weekly blog meme was created and is hosted by Aimal at Bookshelves and Paperbacks! For more information about the meme, please read the announcement post here.

My participation in this meme is to help me with one of my reading goals: to read books with a variety of perspectives, especially ones different from my own. Every two weeks I will share with you:

  1. A diverse book you have read and enjoyed
  2. A diverse book that has already been released but you have not read
  3. A diverse book that has not yet been released

I wanted to do a theme for this week’s Diversity Spotlight – so this week’s theme is: books with a Southeast Asian protagonist!


A Book I Have Read

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

Though ruled by British overlords, the Chinese of colonial Malaya still cling to ancient customs. And in the sleepy port town of Malacca, ghosts and superstitions abound.

Li Lan, the daughter of a genteel but bankrupt family, has few prospects. But fate intervenes when she receives an unusual proposal from the wealthy and powerful Lim family. They want her to become a ghost bride for the family’s only son, who recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at a terrible price.

After an ominous visit to the opulent Lim mansion, Li Lan finds herself haunted not only by her ghostly would-be suitor, but also by her desire for the Lim’s handsome new heir, Tian Bai. Night after night, she is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, with its ghost cities, paper funeral offerings, vengeful spirits and monstrous bureaucracy—including the mysterious Er Lang, a charming but unpredictable guardian spirit. Li Lan must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family—before she is trapped in this ghostly world forever.


I connected so, so, so much to this book. Seeing things like kuih, pineapple tarts, and love letters made me so happy – like I was seeing a part of myself in the story. Earlier this year, I actually visited Malacca, where the book was set! It was such a lovely town, albeit a little too touristy, but a great place. This book will always have a special place in my heart.

Add this book on Goodreads


A Book On My TBR

Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz 

Jasmine de los Santos has always done what’s expected of her. Pretty and popular, she’s studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship.

And then everything shatters. A national scholar award invitation compels her parents to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all and the very real threat of deportation.

For the first time, Jasmine rebels, trying all those teen things she never had time for in the past. Even as she’s trying to make sense of her new world, it’s turned upside down by Royce Blakely, the charming son of a high-ranking congressman. Jasmine no longer has any idea where—or if—she fits into the American Dream. All she knows is that she’s not giving up. Because when the rules you lived by no longer apply, the only thing to do is make up your own.


I’ve heard mixed things about this book, but I’m still very interested to read it. I remember someone talking about how it delves into immigrant experiences, and how the expectations and burdens of such experiences fall on a young teenager’s shoulders. The protagonist is Filipina-American too!

This sounds like a must-read — why haven’t I read it yet?

Add this book on Goodreads


A Book That Hasn’t Been Released Yet

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

When Nicholas Young hears that his grandmother, Su Yi, is on her deathbed, he rushes to be by her bedside–but he’s not alone. It seems the entire Shang-Young clan has convened from all corners of the globe, ostensibly to care for their matriarch but truly to stake claim on the massive fortune that Su Yi controls. With each family member secretly fantasizing about getting the keys to Tyersall Park–a trophy estate on 64 prime acres in the heart of Singapore–the place becomes a hotbed of intrigue and Nicholas finds himself blocked from entering the premises.

As relatives claw over heirlooms, Astrid Leong is at the center of her own storm, desperately in love with her old sweetheart Charlie Wu, but tormented by his ex-wife–a woman hell bent on destroying Astrid’s reputation and relationship. Meanwhile Kitty Pong, married to billionaire Jack Bing, finds a formidable opponent in his fashionista daughter, Colette. A sweeping novel that takes us from the elegantly appointed mansions of Manila to the secluded private islands in the Sulu Sea, from a schoolyard kidnapping to a gold-leaf dancefloor spattered with blood, Kevin Kwan’s gloriously wicked new novel reveals the long-buried secrets and rich people problems of Asia’s most privileged families.



To be honest, I haven’t read the first two books but oh boy, I have to. Although it sounds outlandish and is probably very exaggerated, I’ve witnessed the opulence and wealth of very rich Singaporeans. And it’s wild!

Also, knowing my humour I’ll probably find this series hilarious. 😐

Add this book on Goodreads


Hooray, another Diversity Spotlight Thursday! I will be posting my next spotlight on the 15th of June!

  • Are you interested in reading any of these books? 😀 Which one and why?
  • Have you read any of these books yet? If yes, what do you think? Should I be excited?
  • Did you participate in Diversity Spotlight Thursday this week? If so, please share your link with me! I’d love to see your three choices!

3 thoughts on “Diversity Spotlight Thursday #13 – Southeast Asian Protagonists

  1. I’m excited for The Ghost Bride, because it’s about my culture even though it sounds creepy?? But my family never talk about it so I’m curious. Also Rich People Problems! The first book was hilarious, I’m still not over it xD

  2. I’ve been seeing Rich People Problems around all of today, and I guess I didn’t know it was a sequel? I think I would definitely be interested in the first books, so I’ll have to get on that. I’ve also heard mixed things about Something In Between, but I hope you love it! I think I have a sampler of that somewhere that I might try!

  3. As a Malaysian whose parents came from Malacca, I enjoyed The Ghost Bride but felt like it was similar to a lot of the books by local authors published overseas – it pandered to a certain crowd, one that wanted lavish descriptions of ordinary things so they could talk about how “exotic” our culture is. I still like the book, and really appreciate being able to read fantasy/horror with some local flavour. I’m hoping she’ll have another book out one day!

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