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Crash Landing

by Li Charmaine Anne

In Li Charmaine Anne’s debut, Crash Landing, high school senior Jay Wong finds herself re-evaluating her life after meeting Ash Chan. On discovering a passion for video-editing, Jay’s focus shifts from academics to making skateboarding videos to help Ash win a cash prize.

Jay’s mom’s concerns about Ash being a bad influence are understandable, yet Ash and her skater friends’ brand of badass-ery is relatively benign. They smoke cigarettes and weed, and when Ash does get Jay into trouble, it’s for a childish, Bart Simpson-esque prank. Jay finds her childhood BFF David boring for being too obsessed with school, but then immediately realizes his coolness once her skater friends do. Her story isn’t so much about a lifelong good girl finally breaking free of the rules as it is about a sheltered girl play-acting rebellion.

In a sweet subplot, Jay experiences first love when she develops a crush on Ash, and their relationship evolves over a school project on Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. The dialogue about Woolf’s relationship with Vita Sackville-West gets heavy-handed, but it’s refreshing to see Woolf in a YA novel instead of the usual references to Austen, Shakespeare, and the Brontës.

The novel explores Jay’s dual identity as Asian and Canadian. This reviewer appreciated the very Asian elements: Jay’s parents demonstrate their love with plates of sliced fruit and by bragging about their children’s grades at church. Jay’s younger sister, Wendy, also feels she “has to” become a doctor for her parents’ sake, to make up for Jay’s ambition to be an artist. 

Some of Jay’s behaviours are distinctly influenced by her Canadianness. She confronts her mom about the harm of unrealistically high expectations with a directness that this reviewer – as a Filipino immigrant – found disrespectful. 

Crash Landing is more literary than its action-packed cover art suggests. The conflicts are internal, the pacing measured, and despite all the skateboarding terms, the scenes about Woolf flow more organically than those set in the skatepark. Li Charmaine Anne’s writing invites reflection, and Jay’s story provides plenty of material.


Reviewer: Jaclyn Qua-Hiansen

Publisher: Annick Press


Price: $24.99

Page Count: 288 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 9781773218410

Released: April

Issue Date: April 2024

Categories: Children and YA Fiction, Kids’ Books

Age Range: 14+