Review: Boys I Know by Anna Gracia

Boys I Know by Anna Gracia

Boys I Know
Anna Gracia
Peachtree Teen
Published July 5, 20222

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Boys I Know

*A high school senior navigates messy boys and messier relationships in this bitingly funny and much-needed look into the overlap of Asian American identity and teen sexuality.*

June Chu is the “just good enough” girl. Good enough to line the shelves with a slew of third-place trophies and steal secret kisses from her AP Bio partner, Rhys. But not good enough to meet literally any of her Taiwanese mother’s unrelenting expectations or to get Rhys to commit to anything beyond a well-timed joke.

While June’s mother insists she follow in her (perfect) sister’s footsteps and get a (full-ride) violin scholarship to Northwestern (to study pre-med), June doesn’t see the point in trying too hard if she’s destined to fall short anyway. Instead, she focuses her efforts on making her relationship with Rhys “official.” But after her methodically-planned, tipsily-executed scheme explodes on the level of a nuclear disaster, she flings herself into a new relationship with a guy who’s not allergic to the word “girlfriend.”

But as the line between sex and love blurs, and pressure to map out her entire future threatens to burst, June will have to decide on whose terms she’s going to live her life—even if it means fraying her relationship with her mother beyond repair.

Boys I Know on Goodreads

My Review

I had so much fun reading this book. It’s like all the best things and also most cringe-worthy things about high school romance told in a heartbreaking but also often wry and comical way. The relationships totally hooked me, especially June’s relationship with her mom, with Candace, and with Rhys.

I love that June grows so much and the ways that growth impacts her other relationships. I loved the humor woven all through the book. It’s in the antics between June and her friends. The banter between her and her sister. Even the tense exchanges between June and her mom have wit and fun mixed in.

June’s mom is constantly quoting Chinese proverbs to her to remind her about different things or reinforce her rules and ideas. At one point, June learns that one of the proverbs her mom quotes all the time has a second half she wasn’t familiar with. The meaning of that second half completely changes her understanding of the part her mom always quotes. It also starts June thinking about her relationship with her parents in a different way. I loved the way the proverbs were used, but I especially loved that moment where learning the second half of the proverb changes June’s perception. I thought that was a really cool moment and probably one of my favorite scenes. (My other favorite scene is the last one with Rhys, which kind of brought the whole story together. I loved it.)

All in all, I loved the relationships in this book and the growth that June experiences. I think fans of YOU’VE REACHED SAM by Dustin Thao will like this one.

Boys I Know on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 16 up.

June is Taiwanese American.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used somewhat frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl. Reference to touching over clothes. A girl plans to engage in oral sex with her boyfriend. Some references to sex and oral sex. One scene shows sex.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content

Drug Content
June and her friends sometimes smoke pot and drink alcohol.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

2 Responses to Review: Boys I Know by Anna Gracia

  1. This sounds like the best kind of YA–realistic but funny and also wise. I’m ordering it today!