This Place Is Still Beautiful
🏆 Indies Introduce Book Award
🏆 Indie Next Book Award
🏆 Winner of the Chinese American Librarians Association award for best Young Adult fiction
🏆 Friends of American Writers’ Young People Literature Award Winner
With five starred reviews, this is an acclaimed novel about sisterhood, family, and the pernicious legacy of racism. Perfect for fans of Tahereh Mafi, Jandy Nelson, and Emily X.R. Pan, with crossover appeal for readers of Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half.
The Flanagan sisters are as different as they come. Seventeen-year-old Annalie is bubbly, sweet, and self-conscious, whereas nineteen-year-old Margaret is sharp and assertive. Margaret looks just like their mother, while Annalie passes for white and looks like the father who abandoned them years ago, leaving their Chinese immigrant mama to raise the girls alone in their small, predominantly white Midwestern town.
When their house is vandalized with a shocking racial slur, Margaret rushes home from her summer internship in New York City. She expects outrage. Instead, her sister and mother would rather move on. Especially once Margaret’s own investigation begins to make members of their community uncomfortable.
For Annalie, this was meant to be a summer of new possibilities, and she resents her sister’s sudden presence and insistence on drawing negative attention to their family. Meanwhile Margaret is infuriated with Annalie’s passive acceptance of what happened.
For Margaret, the summer couldn’t possibly get worse, until she crosses paths with someone she swore she’d never see her first love, Rajiv Agarwal. As the sisters navigate this unexpected summer, an explosive secret threatens to break apart their relationship, once and for all.
This Place Is Still Beautiful is a luminous, captivating story about identity, sisterhood, and how our hometowns are inextricably a part of who we are, even when we outgrow them.
Blurbs & Reviews!
"Tender and lovely, This Place is Still Beautiful tells the story of a family forced to face their town—and each other—in the wake of a crime that can’t be ignored. XiXi Tian is an exciting new voice in YA, and this moving debut is not to be missed."
Nina La Cour (Michael L. Printz Award winner)
"Tian’s tender debut centers the estranged, stormy, evolving sisterhood of Annalie and Margaret Flanagan following a racist incident…. Tian simultaneously addresses racism’s lasting effects on individual lives while eloquently tackling the uncertainty that teens can face in transitional periods. Told in alternating perspectives, this emotionally layered novel, populated by nuanced characters and culminating in complex resolutions, resonates."
Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)
"While Tian doesn’t shy away from dealing with large and small acts of racial prejudice, the story revolves around the two very different sisters: their personalities, their perceptions, and their evolving connections with each other, their mother, and their friends. An impressive first novel."
ALA Booklist (starred review)
"A radiant YA debut about biracial identity and the complexity of love for people and places. An incisive read."
Shelf Awareness (starred review)
"Tian excavates the awkward, ugly truths we avoid, and exposes them with raw emotional honesty and grace. This book made me feel seen in a way that very few books ever have. I found myself nodding and saying, 'Yes, that’s so true!' over and over again."
"As the sisters grapple with what it means to be mixed race and Asian American in a largely White Midwestern town, when to speak up, and whose expectations they should meet, they also struggle to navigate their relationship with each other. About much more than just racism toward Chinese Americans, this novel deftly tackles the precarious moments surrounding the end of high school and the beginning of college when romantic and familial relationships are complicated, changing, and all-consuming. Quiet yet powerful, complex, and grounded in the reality that nothing will ever be completely resolved."
Kirkus (starred review)
"Tian’s debut explores our vulnerabilities in the face of change and how we find redemption for our past mistakes."