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What 'What Things Mean' Means 2017.01.02 00:04:40
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"What What Things Means Means"

What the Scholastic Asian Book Awarding novel implies to the readership 



          “What does it mean to be different? 14-year-old Olive is struggling to find out. Everything about

her is so different from the rest of her family. She is big-haired, brown skinned, and clumsy in a family

of cream-colored beauties who are all popular and Good At Sports. She closely resembles a father she

has never known, and about whom her mother never speaks, and no one wants to tell her why. She

turns to books and other things in her quest to find answers, and as a way to cope with her loneliness.

When she learns the truth about her father, she must decide whether or not she will let the differences

in her life define her forever.”





          Sophia N. Lee wanted to be many things growing up: doctor, teacher, ballerina, ninja, crime-

fighting international spy, wizard, time traveler, journalist, and lawyer. She likes to think she can be all

these things through writing. She loves words and the meanings behind them. Her favorite word is

'chance'. What Things Mean is her first published work – a unique coming-of-age story unfolding

through dictionary-style chapters.





          “My manuscript was actually the final project for a writing class that I was taking at the

University of the Philippines Diliman Creative Writing MA program. The class was an elective called

Writing for Young Adults under Professor Heidi Eusebio-Abad. It required us to begin and complete a

young adult novel within one semester, and during that time, we were able to get feedback and

improve upon our works-in-progress through writing workshops,” Lee said.


          What Things Mean takes a closer look at the things that define a life, and the many ways in

which we find meaning. Each chapter starts off with a word like ‘jars’, ­‘pickles’, ‘cut’, etc, followed by

its ­meaning and how the word is used in various ways. This is then followed by a story, which is

inspired by the word. The story is simple and relatively short (133 pages) but author Sophia N. Lee

manages to capture Olive’s feeling of loneliness, and her urge to find herself and the truth behind the

mystery that has clouded her mind throughout much of her life – her parentage.





          Fresh and gripping and simple and unadulterated, this is a young adult novel perfect for those

who want to make peace with the fulfilment-finder within themselves. Not subjective at all – after

all, it is a Scholastic Book Award winner.




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