It’s Boba Time for Pearl Li

About the Book:

It's Boba Time for Pearl Li! by [Nicole Chen]

Title:It’s Boba Time for Pearl Li
Author: Nicole Chen
Publisher: Quill Tree Books
Release Date: February 28th, 2023
Genre: Children’s Fiction

erfect for fans of Kelly Yang and Jessica Kim, this joyful, moving middle grade contemporary follows a big-hearted Taiwanese American girl as she aims to gain her family’s acceptance and save her favorite boba tea shop by selling her handcrafted amigurumi dolls. 

Pearl Li is ready to spend the summer before seventh grade hanging out with her two best friends, crocheting the cutest amigurumi dolls, and visiting her favorite tea shop, Boba Time. Its quirky owner, Auntie Cha, is the only adult Pearl can confide in about her art—if only her tech-obsessed family would understand her love of crafts! 

After Pearl learns of Boba Time’s financial troubles, she decides to sell her amigurumi to raise money for the shop. But as she navigates the ups and downs of running a business, Pearl realizes that monetizing her passion is more complicated than she could’ve ever imagined. Can Pearl save Boba Time before it’s too late? 

Book Review:

I’m so excited for this new wave of diverse middle grade fiction! I would have loved to read these books as a kid, and it’s incredibly important to see representation on the page. I also really loved how It’s Boba Time, Pearl Li does not focus on racism. Instead it’s about a normal American girl who is Taiwanese. It’s important to normalize MC of different ethnicities instead of shoving them into a box where their books can only be about racism.

It’s Boba Time for Pearl Li is about a seventh grade girl who discovers her favorite boba shop is about to close. She’s determined to help the owner, Auntie Cha, and decides to start her own business and sell amigurumi dolls. But running a business is more complicated than she thought. What happens when her friend and family drama get in the way of saving the boba shop?

I felt like Pearl was very relatable especially for middle school girls. She’s still trying to figure herself out and stand up for herself. She was also relatively selfish at times. I think that it was frustrating, but it also made sense for her age. She had to learn how to think about and consider others, and I loved watching her grow and mature. I think Chen did a great job of showing Pearl’s growth in her friendships and showing the importance of saying sorry when you mess up.

I loved her friends! I love the diversity in their group and also I loved watching them learn how to interact. Friendships are so hard especially in middle school, but it was cool to see a solid group of girlfriends with no romance! Definitely a fan of romance, but I think in middle school friendships are more important. Pearl also had to learn how to deal with family relationships.

I like learning about Pearl’s family and how different they all were. But I didn’t love how the family aspect was handled. Pearl ends up lying to her parents in the book, and in the end, her fault is glossed over. Chen focuses more on how her mother should have been more supportive of her crafts. I think there were definitely communication issues on both sides, but I would have liked to see equal responsibility taken from both sides. And it was odd to me how the dad in the story didn’t really have a role. He seemed to be there simply to be there, and while I admire the strong female relationships, I wanted to see his part in the family.

However, I did enjoy seeing the different dynamics. It felt really real, and I think it showed the importance again of good communication. There were a lot of great lessons in this book including one about business and entrepreneurship. However, the lessons felt natural, and they weren’t shoved down your throat.

I would definitely recommend this book to any tween girl! It’s a fun, clean, read about family, friends, and talking to your loved ones.


Strong female friendships

Sisterly bonds

Not judging others

Importance of communication

Racially diverse characters just going through life

Business/entrepreneurship lessons

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher through Netgalley. All views expressed are only my honest opinion, a positive review was not required.


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