60 Jenny Han Quotes On culture And Power

It’s far too rare an experience for Asian American girls to see themselves in media.

Food is a way to explore culture and ground the story in a specific time and place. I still remember the meals and snacks from my first novel, ‘Shug’: pork chops and applesauce and Coca-Cola and peanuts, which are very Southern. When a character has roots elsewhere, food is a way to connect with home and another culture.

It’s important for Asian American kids to see themselves in stories and to feel seen. They need to know that their stories are universal, too, that they, too, can fall in love in a teen movie. They don’t have to be the sidekick; they can be the hero.

My sister and I are really close. She’s my little sister.

There is real power in seeing yourself as a hero. Because then you believe that you can do anything.

When I finished ‘P.S. I Still Love You,’ I truly was done with the series. I kept saying the books were two halves of a heart. But I suppose time and space had made me nostalgic, because my mind kept drifting back to Lara Jean and Peter, wondering what they were up to.

It’s not hard to get into a teen’s head, because it’s all emotions. Their feelings are amplified; you have no luxury of hindsight. If you haven’t had your heart broken before, you don’t know that you’ll be able to get back up again.

When I sold my first middle-grade novel in 2005, it wasn’t that common to put an author photo on the back flap, but 24-year-old Korean-American me insisted. I wanted Asian girls to see my face. And more than that, I wanted them to see what is possible.

There is power in seeing a face that looks like yours do something, be someone. There is power in moving from the sidelines to the center.

I don’t plan anything out, and I don’t write in chronological order. The emotional tenor is what guides me, but a lot of it is feeling my way through the dark. That’s okay if you have unlimited time to work and stumble upon things in a delightful way, but under a deadline, it can be really stressful.

I just think of myself as a writer. Yes, I’m a woman. And I’m a writer. The main challenge is that I like to write stories about young women, and society doesn’t place much of a premium on young women’s stories. And I think that’s why I gravitate towards it. I really honor that, and I treasure that time, and they should be given that respect.

I always think about race as a part of one’s identity, not the whole of one’s identity. You don’t want it to be the defining characteristic of a character. There has to be more.

You don’t have to you change yourself for somebody else to like you.

I had a bulletin board in my bedroom with every picture of Leo ever taken – keep in mind, this was pre-‘Titanic’ and pre-Us Weekly, practically pre-Internet. I had to buy ‘The Leonardo DiCaprio Album’ and cut out my favorite pics

Teenage years are all about crushes: crushes so deep you wanted to inhabit the other person, be inside their skin, see the world through their eyes.

I started writing stories at a young age, but not once did it occur to me that I could grow up to be a writer. Who could I look to? My favorite authors were Ann M. Martin and E.L. Konigsburg and Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary and Lois Lowry and Norma Klein. They were all white women, and they seemed so stately to me, so elegant. A whole world away.

I really love to write about food, crafts, and fashion, so those details will always be a part of my books. I think they inject stories with color and flavor, providing a tactile experience.

Every choice leads you somewhere, but it might not be where you truly want to be if the decision is based on someone else. It could lead to regrets and what-ifs, but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t still have valuable experiences.

My sister is my very favorite person, and I dedicated ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ to her.

The most joyful part of writing, for me, is when I am 90% there, and suddenly the story clicks into place, and things finally start to make sense.

I try to be measured and thoughtful about what I put out there because I know a lot of young people follow me on Twitter, and I take that seriously – which is why I don’t exclusively tweet about cookies and ‘Game of Thrones’ and YA.

I learn so much on Twitter all the time, and it would be a shame not to share that with my readers.

A tweet in an article can feel more permanent and louder than a tweet on Twitter.

I think that if a writer doesn’t use her voice, be it in her writing or online or in real life, then what is the point of having one?

I think, as a writer, you spend most of your time working on the book alone.

There’s some of me in all my characters.

I came of age during the Golden Age of rom coms – like the ’90s and 2000s – there were so many.

I was writing my first book when I was in college. I was a teenager.

My whole life, as an adult as well, I’ve been attracted to stories about young people. This period of time is so fertile – there’s a million things that are happening, a million firsts, and to be able to witness that and record that is a privilege.

‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’ is about how, as a young woman, everyone gets that moment of being in bloom, but nobody really appreciates it.


My name is Jennifer, and when I first went to school, my kindergarten teacher called me Jenny, and from then on, I was Jenny.

As a child, I spent a lot of summers going to the beach with family friends.

All my writer friends outline their books, and I find that hard. It doesn’t feel inspired to me. I get bored with that, and really, I just want it to be fun.

I think most girls have that moment when boys they’ve known their whole life see them in a different way.

I write diverse books because the world we live in is diverse, and I want my books to reflect that truth.

I think most girls have that moment when boys they’ve known their whole life see them in a different way.

I write diverse books because the world we live in is diverse, and I want my books to reflect that truth.

I don’t think kids of color should have to search far and wide to find books that reflect their experience.

Beyonce, Otis Redding, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, and Adele are a few of my favorites.

I don’t think you ever love anything as passionately as you do when you’re a teen. You remember the books you read as a young person your whole life. I feel so lucky to write for young adults.

I worked on ‘Always and Forever, Lara Jean’ for a few months before I breathed a word of it my editor or agent.

There’s something so delicious about holding onto a secret; it’s something just for you.

Change is hard but inevitable.

The feedback for ‘P.S. I Still Love You’ has been pretty amazing. To have written this story about this family with Asian-American characters and be so embraced is really incredible for me as a writer as well as a person of color.

I think you are going through so many ‘firsts’ as a teenager, and it’s a charged time because of that. You don’t have much autonomy in life. Everything is just kind of crazy, and there are so many huge decisions to be made, like where are you going to college or who you date. These things can really affect your whole life.

I like to read non-fiction on my e-reader, but as for fiction, I usually like to have a copy to keep at home.

Writing is just always hard for me. It always feels like drawing blood. It’s never particularly easy.

There are so many people that want to tell stories. I think that the issue is how hard it is to get your foot in the door to tell your stories.

I think, generally, romantic stories end with people together. But I’d like a story that ends, like, hopefully but not necessarily neatly.

Sometimes readers want some escapist fun, to get lost in the story. But light-hearted romantic stories can and should star all kinds of girls.

I do end up revealing a lot online, but in books, what I reveal is more tailored. Authors can couch revelations in fiction. With social media, no one wants to watch or read if it doesn’t feel authentic, so you end up giving away a lot of yourself.

Even as a full-grown adult, it can still feel destabilizing when your family goes through changes.

We learn so much about the world by what we take in through movies and TV and books – we learn who’s worthy of having their story told.

I might just be the luckiest girl ever.

I always know what time it is.

It’s fairly common to get something optioned but really rare to actually see it become a movie.

I think that, oftentimes, what people say is, ‘We need an actress who’ll be able to greenlight a movie,’ and my counterargument to that is always that, when it comes to a teen movie, you have very few people who can greenlight a movie.

With Asian-Americans actors, specifically, there’s been fewer opportunities for them in TV and film and fewer that have the ability to actually make a career out of it. It becomes a bit of a chicken and egg situation, where they’re like, ‘Oh, but they’re not famous names,’ but they haven’t had a chance to be in anything yet, either.

The American girl doesn’t look just one kind of way – not in 2018, not ever.

I think that’s what distinguishes YA from adult fiction – it’s not just the age of the characters, but it’s the sense of hope. Because I don’t think I’ve ever read a YA book that feels completely hopeless at the end.

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