If you ever moved as a kid, you know how Lily feels: Sad to say goodbye, afraid to start anew and angry — yes, angry — at the unfairness of it all.
Lily is the spunky heroine of This Is Not My Home, the first children’s book from Eugenia Yoh, BFA ’22 (above left), a communication design graduate of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, and Vivienne Chang, a senior in economics and strategy at Olin Business School.
At the book’s start, Lily learns that she and her mother must leave their home in America to care for her grandmother in Taiwan. Lily does not like her new home — the strange food, the crowded market, the weird toilets. “This is not my backyard barbecue,” Lilly tells her mother. “This is not our car, these aren’t my fireflies. This is not my home.”
Through her mother’s love and patience, Lily finds her place. But it takes time.
“From the start, I wanted to make a book about a girl who is feeling raw and genuine anger,” Yoh says. “We tell the story against the cultural backdrop of Taiwan, a place that is very important to both of us. But any child who has had to move can see themselves in Lily.”
Chang and Yoh met in 2019 at a campus hotpot party hosted by the Taiwanese Students Organization. The two students soon learned they shared a love for the food, culture and people of Taiwan, where they both had family. They also discovered another, more unusual passion — children’s books. So during the COVID-19 pandemic, the friends decided to write their own tale about reverse immigration, a phenomenon that is not entirely uncommon.
“We both have friends like Lily,” Chang says. “Often, when we return to our ‘mother lands,’ we have this glorified experience where we, as tourists, are like, ‘Wow, look at how amazing everything is.’ But it’s very different to have to assimilate to a new culture. We wanted to explore that idea while depicting Taiwan in the most authentic way possible.”
Throughout the creative process, Yoh and Chang received support from John Hendrix, professor and chair of the Master of Fine Arts in Illustration & Visual Culture program at the Sam Fox School; Julia Kuo, BFA ’07; and their friends in the Asian community. In addition to serving as executives of the Taiwanese Students Organization, Yoh and Chang also performed at Lunar New Year with the Chinese Yo-yo Club.
“There are a lot of great people in the WashU community who were there for us,” Yoh says.
Up next, Yoh and Chang will start work on the second book of their two-book contract while pursuing their different careers. After graduation Yoh moved to San Francisco where she designs children’s book covers for Chronicle Books. And Chang, who is scheduled to graduate in May, has accepted a job in New York as an innovation analyst for JP Morgan.
“We don’t know what the next book will be, but we’re excited to do it together,” Chang says.