35 Asian and Asian American Books Everyone Should Read
From modern classics to new releases, these stellar Asian, Pacific Islander and Asian American books belong on your to-read list
Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.
Must-read Asian and Asian American books
Growing up in the 1990s in the United States, I never saw myself represented as the main character. I assumed people who looked like me and my Korean American immigrant family were destined to be sidekicks or punchlines to jokes. But diverse representation is crucial to both learning about perspectives that are different from our own and teaching our communities that our stories and voices matter. For the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, the increasing number of Asian American books, Asian movies and Asian American podcasts seem to get us closer to what Pulitzer Prize–winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen calls “narrative plentitude”—a world in which there are many stories (both good and bad) about many different kinds of people, a world in which looking beyond stereotypes and ending anti-Asian racism is possible.
Yet despite a surge in such stories over the past several years, we’re not quite there yet. There’s still much work to be done. Asian American literature is an enormous category spanning multiple genres and cultures, many of which are still experiencing “narrative scarcity.” After all, we are not a monolith; the AAPI community encompasses hundreds of ethnic groups of East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander descent.
For 2023, we’ve compiled 35 books for you that are indicative of the multitudes of these stories, from critically acclaimed bestsellers to culturally significant groundbreakers. May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and while you can help the Asian American community by supporting Asian-owned companies, it’s also the perfect time to start reading books by AAPI authors, if you haven’t yet. If you like this roundup, be sure to check out our lists of the best books, books by Black authors, books by Latinx authors, Native American books and children’s books about diversity!
Join the free Reader’s Digest Book Club for great reads, monthly discussions, author Q&As and a community of book lovers.
1. Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T. Kira Madden
We’re kicking off our list with T. Kira Madden’s 2019 coming-of-age memoir, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls. In stunning prose, Madden writes of childhood and adolescence in Boca Raton as a queer girl of native Hawaiian, Chinese, Irish and Eastern European Jewish descent. To read this book is to revel in its humor and insight, sometimes bright and sparkling, other times singed with pain. With boundless love, Madden makes vivid her parents’ struggle with drug addiction, the loss of her father and her kinship with other fatherless girls. Her writing extends the boundaries of family and the possibilities of what a memoir can be. The New York Times hailed it as “a fearless debut,” and author Chanel Miller called it “the book I wish I’d had growing up.”
Looking for your next great book? Read four of today’s bestselling novels in the time it takes to read one with Reader’s Digest Select Editions. And be sure to follow the Select Editions page on Facebook!
2. Yellowface by R.F. Kuang
Genre: Satire/psychological thriller
New York Times bestselling author R.F. Kuang is back with another triumph, and her 2023 contemporary novel, Yellowface, proves she’s a master of multiple book genres. Unlike her award-winning Poppy War fantasy book series or dark academia Babel, her latest is a darkly funny satire about the publishing industry that also ventures into the thriller realm. As perfectly encapsulated by its title, the novel follows a white woman who plagiarizes her Chinese American friend’s work and gets re-branded by her publisher as Asian. What ensues is a brilliant train wreck that will have your heart in your throat and yet compel you to keep reading. All the while, it’ll help you gain deeper insight into the racism and sexism rampant in the literary world and the impact of social media on modern-day authors.
3. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
Genre: LGBTQ+ coming-of-age novel
In this stunning 2019 debut novel by acclaimed poet Ocean Vuong, a Vietnamese American son pens a letter to his mother, who will likely never read it, as she speaks little English and cannot read. She works brutal hours at a nail salon, coming home late to battle PTSD from what she witnessed as a child in Vietnam. Each line on each page of this book shimmers, evidence of the magic that occurs when poets transfer their deep attention to language into the world of novels. In sentences that will make your heart ache, the narrator writes to his mother what he will not say to her aloud. He tells her how it felt to endure her abuse. He tells her of his summer job on a tobacco farm, where he fell in love with a boy addicted to opioids. Through words for his mother, we begin to contemplate what it means to live in America and what it means to have this brief and beautiful time on earth.
4. Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong
Genre: Memoir/cultural criticism
One of the most powerful and necessary Asian American books, Minor Feelings is a must-read revelation. Author and poet Claudia Rankine said, “To read this book is to become more human.” Indeed, for Asian Americans, Cathy Park Hong put into words so many experiences that have remained silent and invisible within us. Having language for these minor feelings—”minor” as in the melancholy music scale, but also as in feelings that have been dismissed as minor by others—is like uncovering whole layers of the human experience, both for those inside and outside the Asian American community. Hong lends her lived experiences as a Korean American daughter of immigrant parents, as well as her sharp insights and research, to these beautifully and honestly written essays. This 2020 book will be adapted for the screen by A24 and actress Greta Lee.
5. Good Talk by Mira Jacob
Genre: Graphic memoir
As children learn about the world, they often ask questions that make us rethink what we take for granted. In this 2018 graphic memoir, author Mira Jacob’s 6-year-old son is full of questions—some poignant, some funny—all of which lead to very good talks. As rifts in their interracial family surface with the 2016 presidential election, these questions grow in complexity, causing Jacob to reflect on her own American experience and sense of identity. With pictures and dialogue, the format is at once powerful and inviting. Good Talk is one of the most honest books about race relations in America and is told with immense love, humor and insight.
6. Banyan Moon by Thao Thai
Genre: Family saga
A sweeping tale of motherhood and survival, this 2023 novel follows the lives of three generations of strong Vietnamese American women. In the aftermath of their beloved matriarch’s death, Ann and her mother Huong must come together in their decrepit mansion in the Florida swampland to process their grief and heal their relationship. Banyan Moon is at times historical fiction that dives into the traumas of the war in Vietnam (you may want to keep a box of tissues handy if sad books make you cry easily), but it also reads like a fairy tale and a beautiful testament to the things we do for love.
7. Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
Genre: Science fiction/short stories
Stories of Your Life and Others is for readers of both short stories and sci-fi books. Published in 2002 to critical acclaim and awards, this collection was more than 10 years in the making. Ted Chiang spent five years researching linguistics to write one of the stories in this collection, “Story of Your Life,” which was the basis for the film Arrival starring Amy Adams. The story centers on a linguist who learns to communicate with visiting aliens and in the process begins to experience time differently. All Chiang’s stories will make you pause and think more deeply about the reality we live in and the reality he presents to us. He brings big concepts like free will, love, time and knowledge into sharp focus with stories that are intimate and full of humanity.
8. Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So
Genre: Short stories
For fans of short fiction, there is no more beautifully written choice than Afterparties, a 2021 short story collection about Cambodian American life in Central Valley, California. Each story showcases the mastery of Anthony Veasna So, a young debut writer who died the winter before this book was published. So’s characters pulse with life, the older generation survivors of the Khmer Rouge genocide, the younger generation deft wielders of humor to process this trauma. Though self-contained, the stories are interconnected by characters who share a community. Maly first appears as the beautiful, charismatic cousin of a narrator. Her deceased mom is said to be reincarnated as a baby, and the family is throwing a party to celebrate her return. Maly reappears in a story when that baby is in her 20s and working as a nurse. Maly’s boyfriend has his own story at a Buddhist temple, where he stays to mourn the death of his father. There is some comfort in the way these characters return, as So himself continues to live in the legacy of his brilliant stories.
9. The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff
Part murder mystery, part dark comedy, Parini Shroff’s 2023 debut novel, The Bandit Queens, follows a woman named Geeta in a small village in India whom everyone believes murdered her abusive husband (even though she insists she didn’t). Women come to Geeta for advice on how to get rid of their own husbands, and together they support one another through the pains of misogyny and caste discrimination. While most mystery books focus on the crime and the victim, Shroff uses the narrative as an opportunity to paint a stark and complex portrayal of women’s rights in India and to celebrate the power of sisterhood.
10. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Genre: Historical fiction/family saga
Before this book was a phenomenon on Apple TV, it was a National Book Award finalist and Roxane Gay’s favorite book of 2017. Pachinko is Min Jin Lee’s second novel (her debut, Free Food for Millionaires, is also excellent), and its scope is ambitious and sweeping. Following four generations of a poor Korean family, the story illuminates the heartrending choices that must be made without financial freedom and how fortune can fluctuate between generations but wounds of displacement linger. The length of this book may appear intimidating, but Lee’s writing is transportive, and before you know it, you’ll have traveled the years and countries with this family and will have a hard time leaving them. Luckily, you can see them reimagined on Apple TV, then check out our list of other books that have been made into popular TV shows.
11. The Parted Earth by Anjali Enjeti
Genre: Historical fiction/saga
If you can’t get enough of intergenerational stories like Pachinko, this 2021 debut novel by Anjali Enjeti is one to check out. Enjeti is one of the most exciting new Asian authors and also published a nonfiction book, called Southbound, the same year. This novel begins in 1947 during the Partition of India, when British colonizers sliced borders between India and Pakistan along religious lines, causing devastating displacement for millions of people. Scholars have called it the largest migration in human history, and Enjeti brings the reader into a family story to intimately show the loss and reverberating pain of this time. Across 70 years, three generations of women and the continents where they sought to find themselves, The Parted Earth gifts us with a poignant family saga. If you enjoy listening to audiobooks, this is one you won’t want to miss. Its narrator, Deepti Gupta, won the Audie award for “best female narrator of 2022.”
12. The Magical Language of Others by E.J. Koh
Another recommendation for fans of intergenerational stories: The Magical Language of Others. This 2020 award-winning memoir is a meditation on absence, forgiveness and the ever-moving forms of mother-daughter relationships. When teenage Eun Ji’s parents move to South Korea for work, she finds herself facing adolescence in America without them. Through letters written in Korean, her mother tries to reach her, apologize to her and communicate her love, but it is not until years later that E.J. translates the letters and goes back in time to understand her young self, her mother, her grandmothers and the ways in which they are all a continuation of one another. Koh is a poet and a translator, and her intimate relationship with language lights the pages of this book, making for a revelatory reading experience.
13. Dust Child by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai
Genre: Historical fiction
After the war in Vietnam, many of the tens of thousands of offspring between American GIs and Vietnamese women became known as the forgotten “children of the dust.” Growing up, Nguyễn remembers seeing glimpses of the discrimination these Amerasians faced and dedicated part of her life to interviewing and reuniting American veterans with their children. Her stunning and heartbreaking 2023 novel, Dust Child, takes these experiences and fictionalizes them through the interwoven stories of two Sài Gòn bar girls, an American veteran and a Black Vietnamese man who seeks to find his family in the United States. Although the subject matter can be difficult to read at times, the book offers glimmers of hope and compassion that transcend borders and language.
14. Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport
Genre: Magical realism/historical fiction
Kiana Davenport’s 1994 novel has become a modern classic of Hawaiian literature. At well over 500 pages, this rich and multifaceted narrative is hard to summarize, but at its heart, it’s the story of Pono, a matriarch and seer of the future, and her four granddaughters, each distinct from one another and from her. Written in lyrical language that evokes the crash of waves and the lushness of the forest, Shark Dialogues weaves Hawaiian history with mythology and family secrets with family duty. It gives generously to the reader, unleashing a plot as wild and potent as nature itself. Through the stories of Pono and her mixed-heritage granddaughters, Shark Dialogues adds to the tapestry of Asian American books, showing parts of Hawaii never published before. If you like this story of powerful women, check out our roundup of feminist books.
15. Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H.
Genre: LGBTQ+ memoir
Queer hijabi Muslim immigrant Lamya H. is already making waves with her 2023 memoir, Hijab Butch Blues. Structured around Islamic prophets and her interpretation of their stories from the Quran, the book explores the complex intersectionality of her sexuality and faith. Be warned that some of the subject matter around religion, mental health and racism can be triggering for some readers, but the author’s poignant prose and message of finding self-love and acceptance is worth the read. Make sure to add these other LGBTQ+ books to your bookshelf as well.
16. All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
Published in 2018 and studded with awards and accolades, All You Can Ever Know is Nicole Chung’s insightful, complex and nuanced account of her adoption. Growing up, her adoptive parents told her a simple and sweet version of how their family came to be. As Chung ventures into adulthood, pregnancy and parenthood, she begins to question her origin story and seeks answers. In a memoir that is as page-turning as it is thought-provoking, Chung uncovers family secrets, beautiful surprises and a new origin story that is anything but simple. She writes with great compassion for her birth family and her adoptive family, and generously shares with readers her experience as a transracial adoptee.
17. The Leavers by Lisa Ko
Genre: Coming-of-age fiction
The Leavers is a story of immigration, separation, adoption, identity, America, China, work, art and so much more. If this sounds ambitious, that’s because it is, but Ko’s skillful writing seamlessly weaves all these themes through the lives of unforgettable characters. The heart of the story unfolds between Deming and his mother, Polly. One day, when he is just 11 years old, she disappears, leaving him alone and confused. Did she choose to leave, or was she taken away? This question is never absent from his mind, even as he is adopted and ushered into a new life with a new name. Eventually, he will learn that the truth of what happened to his mother is far more complicated than he imagined. This beautiful book surfaces questions about what we owe one another and what we owe ourselves. It’s no wonder this debut novel was on NPR’s Best Books of 2017 list.
18. The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki
Genre: Magical realism
Award-winning author Ruth Ozeki’s 2021 novel plays with form and what is real in ways that are both delightful and heartbreaking. Just as he enters adolescence, Benny Oh loses his father. After this, he begins to hear the voices of objects, not in words but in tones. A pencil, a window, a pair of scissors—he hears their moods, histories and desires. At the same time, his mother fills their house with objects in her grief, a fortress of protection that makes Benny’s life at home unbearably loud. The only place he can find solace is in the library. There, he’ll find a voice that leads him to tell his own complicated and difficult story. A novel that is as wide in scope as it is deep in compassion, The Book of Form and Emptiness will have you viewing the world differently when you are finished.
19. This is Paradise by Kristiana Kahakauwila
Genre: Short stories
In this 2013 debut short story collection, Kristiana Kahakauwila takes back the narrative that exoticizes Hawaii as only a vacation spot and lets the voices of the islands tell their own tales. The first story centers on a young tourist’s misadventure, and it’s narrated by the groups of local women who observe her. In the collective “we” voice, we hear from hotel housekeeping staff, surfers and businesswomen. Kahakauwila’s fresh use of this chorus to guide us sets the tone for this collection of six distinct yet connected stories. She traverses divides between class and race and between mainland and island life, making the reader question preconceived ideas of paradise. Each story will make you eager for the next. Joyce Carol Oates calls it “vividly imagined, beautifully written, at times almost unbearably suspenseful.”
20. Biting the Hand: Growing Up Asian in Black and White America by Julia Lee
Genre: Memoir/cultural criticism
While the United States is often seen as a melting pot or mosaic of cultures, an uncomfortable truth is that matters of race can still be incredibly black and white. In Biting the Hand, her poignant 2023 memoir, Julia Lee confronts the racism she has experienced throughout her life and the myth of the model minority, all while grappling with the racial positionality of Asian Americans in a country that too often asks us to choose sides in a conversation dominated by binary racial dynamics. In doing so, Lee weaves a deeply personal narrative, casting a retrospective gaze on the events that shaped her identity, from the Los Angeles Riots of the early ’90s to the social justice movements of the 2010s. But while inherently historical, this nonfiction book, at its heart, attempts to get at a singular question: What does it mean to be truly seen?
21. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Paul Kalanithi was a talented neurosurgeon who also studied literature, and his 2016 memoir, When Breath Becomes Air, tells a story from both sides of death’s threshold. After a diagnosis of Stage 4 lung cancer, he began to pen this book, a reflection on his life, his dreams, his mortality and the end. In writing that is evocative and precise, he speaks right to the heart of all our fears and hopes. He invites us into his life and death in an intimate way that allows us to grapple with our own impermanence.
22. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Genre: Literary fiction
Celeste Ng is one of the most well-known Asian authors and is lauded for stories that thread suspense with psychological insight. Little Fires Everywhere is her second novel, published in 2017 and adapted for television by Hulu in 2020. It follows the Richardsons, a well-meaning and picture-perfect family in the suburbs whose lives are shaken up by the arrival of a single mother who rents a house from them. The two mothers develop a strained relationship as their children’s lives become entangled, and uncomfortable truths are revealed. As the Richardsons’s house burns, we turn pages to find out who started the fire and why. Popular among book clubs, this story will keep the conversation going.
23. Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor
Genre: Crime thriller
If you enjoyed Martin Scorsese’s The Godfather or Goodfellas, you’ll love Deepti Kapoor’s 2023 novel, Age of Vice. Set in the underworld of the lavishly wealthy of India, Vice is a compelling action-packed thriller that explores corruption, sociopolitical tensions and love. This is a long one, but with Kapoor’s use of tension and suspense, the payoff is absolutely worth it.
24. The Body Papers by Grace Talusan
Winner of the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, this 2019 memoir-in-essays traces Grace Talusan’s journey from the Philippines to New England and back again. After an expired visa, her family lived in fear of deportation, and Talusan lived in fear of her grandfather’s abusive nightly visits. Through these essays, we see how a body documents trauma, how the documenting of bodies can create trauma and how the keeping of secrets can harm bodies across generations. By voicing what was previously silenced, Talusan offers strength and protection to those who follow. Moving, courageous and masterfully written, this memoir is not to be missed.
25. Know My Name by Chanel Miller
When “Emily Doe” was assaulted by Brock Turner in 2015, the media and the courtroom focused on what a promising young man he was. He went to Stanford. He was a swimmer. But what about the woman he assaulted? They tried to paint her as unreliable, as disposable, but “Emily Doe” wanted the world to know she was Chanel Miller, an artist, a writer, a woman of exceptional promise who raised her voice to fight for all survivors of sexual assault. Her victim impact statement went viral on BuzzFeed, and Know My Name, her 2020 memoir, went on to win prizes and influence laws. This book shines a light on the lonely, harrowing experience of survivors and stands as a beacon of hope on the road to healing. For more powerful and personal stories, pick up one of these autobiographies.
26. Black Ice Matter by Gina Cole
Genre: Short stories
Although not as widely read as some of the blockbuster books on this list, Black Ice Matter deserves more attention. In 2017, it won Best First Book of Fiction at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, where judges called Gina Cole “a new, assured and vibrant voice.” Of Fijian heritage, Cole resides in New Zealand and centers this collection of short stories in the Asia Pacific region, including New Zealand and Fiji. With writing that is deft and vivid, she plumbs extremes of hot and cold, modern society and prehistory, life and death. Across each of these 13 tales, Cole’s voice rings clear through the darkness.
27. Breasts and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami
Genre: Feminist fiction
At times funny and poignant, at times dark and strange, Breasts and Eggs is about an aspiring writer’s relationship with her bar hostess sister and niece, as well as her fertility journey in modern-day Japan. Mieko Kawakami explores the issues surrounding women’s bodily autonomy in Japan, where reproductive laws are stacked against single women, especially working-class single women. With her irreverent tone and characters who feel both real and absurd, it’s no wonder why this 2020 novel was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and one of TIME‘s Best 10 Books of 2020. For more laughs, crack open one of these other funny books.
28. The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
For readers looking for a happy-ending romance, Helen Hoang’s The Bride Test delivers a story of heart, hope and very steamy love. Hoang was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in 2016, and she’s been writing romance novels with neurodiverse characters ever since. The Bride Test, published in 2019, is her second novel and follows Khai, a handsome and eternally single young man. His autism makes him particular about who he spends time with, and he experiences emotions differently from his family. He thinks he’s incapable of love until the beautiful and tenacious Esme arrives from Vietnam. You can’t help but root for these characters and will fall in love with them as they find love with each other.
29. The Apology by Jimin Han
Genre: Magical realism
Books told from the perspective of an old woman, let alone a recently deceased 105-year-old Korean woman, are rare, but Jimin Han’s The Apology is delightfully fun and irreverent. The 2023 novel is at times surreal, exploring the afterlife and the past, but it also stays true to history by offering accurate portrayals of complex Korean cultural beliefs, Japanese colonialism and diaspora in the West.
30. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
As far as pop-culture Asian American books go, this one has become iconic: Chances are, you’ve seen the film version or at least heard of Crazy Rich Asians. Featuring the first all-Asian cast since 1993’s The Joy Luck Club, the movie’s release was a groundbreaking moment for Asian Americans. Even if you’ve seen the film, the 2013 novel will be hard to put down. The premise is the same: Rachel Chu and Nicholas Young begin dating in New York, but when they go to Nick’s home in Singapore, Rachel learns his family is rich—like, crazy rich—and not everyone is happy about their relationship. The book also holds so many more delicious layers, family secrets and tender moments. It’s fun from beginning to end, and if you enjoy it, you’ll be pleased to learn there are two more books in this romance book series.
31. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Genre: Family saga
Often considered one of the most impactful Asian American books, The Joy Luck Club was prolific author Amy Tan’s debut novel and made Tan one of the most famous Chinese American authors. Published in 1989, the classic novel still holds up, and its interconnected stories of four mothers and four daughters are timeless. When Jing-mei’s mother dies, she is invited to take her place at the mah-jongg table during the weekly meeting of the Joy Luck Club, bridging the gap between these two generations. Each chapter is a vignette told from the point of view of either a mother or a daughter. Their juxtaposed perspectives reveal how much is unsaid between them and how much is misunderstood. Through each character’s story, we explore themes of resilience, familial pressure, generational differences and finding roots.
32. Your Driver Is Waiting by Priya Guns
Genre: LGBTQ+ satire
I know what you’re thinking: We’ve all had it up to here with remakes, reboots and retellings of classics and cult favorites. But Priya Guns’s 2023 novel, Your Driver Is Waiting, is so much more than a gender-flipped, race-swapped retelling of the iconic 1976 movie Taxi Driver in an Uber world. This love story stands on its own legs with its biting humor and ferocious heroine, taking the former’s general premise of a lonely taxi driver in a corrupt city and using it to take a torch to the rampant exploitation and injustice found in our modern world.
33. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Genre: YA romance
For the younger generation (or if you’re just looking for a light teen read), Jenny Han’s To All the Boys series is a true pleasure. In this first installment of the YA book series, Lara Jean shies away from romance, except in her head. She has never had a boyfriend, but she’s written love letters every time she’s had a crush—then hidden them, never to be opened. When someone mails her five letters to five past crushes, her love life might actually leave the page and become more than a fantasy. With humor, sweetness and just a touch of teenage angst, Lara Jean lets us trade all our real-life dramas for hers. If three books aren’t enough, you can watch the three movie adaptations on Netflix. When you’re done, move on to Han’s other YA book series and read The Summer I Turned Pretty books in order.
34. Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
Genre: YA historical fiction
Winner of the 2021 National Book Award in Young People’s Literature, this is Malinda Lo’s sixth novel, and her mastery of the form is clear. Beautifully written and deeply researched, Last Night at the Telegraph Club is both a romantic teen novel and a work of historical fiction, taking place in 1954 in San Francisco. At a time when it is dangerous to be either Chinese or queer, 17-year-old Lily Hu begins to learn what it means to be both. As she and her classmate, Kathleen Miller, find themselves drawn to each other more and more, Lily grapples with what her family would think, how her queerness might endanger them and how much risk comes with love. With the tension of McCarthyism, racism and homophobia humming in the background, this high-stakes story soars with hope.
35. Natural Beauty by Ling Ling Huang
It’s rare to find horror books in Asian American literature and even rarer to find one that’s fun as well. Ling Ling Huang’s debut 2023 novel, Natural Beauty, follows a talented pianist who drops out of her music conservatory in order to work in a luxury beauty and wellness store when her immigrant parents get into a serious car accident. As the protagonist falls deeper into strange beauty practices and the inner circle of the wealthy and charismatic owners, the novel gets creepier and creepier, culminating in a brilliant final act. Come for Huang’s biting commentary on capitalism and the beauty industry; stay for the wild ride.
Additional reporting by Tria Wen.