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In 'Lunar New Year Love Story,' romance is a lion dance

The Year of the Dragon began last weekend, just before Valentine’s Day this week.

In the new graphic novel “Lunar New Year Love Story” — by author Gene Luen Yang and illustrator Leuyen Pham — the two holidays coincide creating a story of fate, family and falling in love.

Vietnamese American main character Valentina has all but given up on love. Any romance in her life has always been met with misfortune and heartbreak. And it’s not just her: Generations of her family before her have had the same unlucky streak.

But when a chance encounter gives her hope again, she must decide whether this is her chance to break the curse or live with a broken heart forever.

The Lunar New Year traditional lion dance becomes a central plot of the book, and illustrator Pham says it’s a perfect metaphor for teenage love.

“There are two people underneath a lion costume. And when they’re dancing together and they’re performing the dance correctly, they perform as a single animal,” Pham says. “You forget that you’re looking at two humans and you believe that you’re actually looking at a lion. So two people have created a single entity with a single heart.”

Book excerpt: ‘Lunar New Year Love Story’

By Gene Luen Yang, illustrated by Leuyen Pham

Excerpt courtesy of First Second Books.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Illustrator Leuyen Pham and author Gene Luen Yang. (Courtesy)
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Illustrator Leuyen Pham and author Gene Luen Yang. (Courtesy)

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