For Ages
12 to 99

Sue Hua just moved from racially diverse Seattle to a suburban white-bread town where she feels like the only Asian American for miles. Then she meets Andy, a handsome and passionate violin player who happens to be Asian American. Sue feels an instant attraction to Andy, and her white friends think they’re “made for each other”–after all, they both use chopsticks and eat a lot of rice, right? But there’s just one problem. Andy’s last name is Suzuki. And while that may mean nothing to the other students at Lakeview High, Sue knows that it presents a world of problems to her family.

An Excerpt fromMismatch

As she headed toward the auditorium, Suzanne Hua knew she would nail her audition with the Lakeview High School Orchestra. She had been one of the best viola players in the orchestra at her old school. She had decided to audition at Lakeview because her sister, Rochelle, thought it would be a good way to meet some cool people. Sue didn't make friends easily, so any opportunity to meet other kids who loved music seemed worth a try.

As soon as Sue slipped inside the doors, she was entranced by the music coming from a violinist playing on the stage. Sue looked up at him, curious to see who could create such a beautiful sound, and saw that he was Asian American, like her. He had a slim build but wide shoulders, and he moved in a relaxed, sexy way. When he finished the passage with a brilliant run, Sue could feel her heart beating in time with the music.

"He's something, isn't he?" asked Mia, a girl Sue recognized from some of her classes. Mia sat in the second row, probably waiting for her own audition. "I think he just got one of the solo parts in a double concerto."

Mr. Baxter, the Lakeview conductor, walked over to the violinist, and from the way they were nodding and smiling, Sue guessed that Mia was right.

Before she could learn more, Mr. Baxter called Mia's name.

"Wish me luck," said Mia. "I play clarinet in the band, but I want to try out for the orchestra because they might go to Tokyo this year."

Tokyo! Sue managed to smile and wish Mia luck, but her heart thumped against her ribs. She groped her way to a seat and sat down, repeating the name Tokyo over and over again in her head. Tokyo might be a fun vacation for Mia, but for Sue, it presented a world of problems. What would her mother say? Maybe Sue shouldn't even audition? Wait. Mia had said the orchestra was only hoping to make the trip. Why worry before I need to? Besides, there were so many other things to think about . . . like that cute violinist, for one.

Mia played pretty well, and when she finished, Mr. Baxter gave her a thumbs-up sign. Mia jumped off the stage and waved her clarinet as she passed Sue. "Hey, I made third chair! Good luck on your audition!"

Sue smiled and waved back just as Mr. Baxter called her name. She walked up to the stage, tuned her viola quickly, opened her score, and breezed through her audition piece, the way she'd known she would.

"Good work, Suzanne," said Mr. Baxter. "I'm putting you in the second row of the viola section for now. But I'm pretty sure you'll be moving up soon."

Sue just grinned. In her old school she had also started in the second row, but the conductor had moved her to the first row after a couple of months. She wasn't worried.

Sue was still getting used to high school in the suburbs. Her family used to live in the central area of Seattle, where they had been surrounded by families of various races. Then Sue's father had been promoted, and her mother had convinced him to move to a suburb with bigger and more expensive homes.

"You're an associate professor now," Sue's mother had argued. "We need to entertain a lot more, and we'll need a nicer dining room."

"As long as you cook one of your great Chinese dinners, our guests will be happy," her father had said.

Then her mom had put on a wistful look, the look that never failed. "I've always wanted a big yard with a sunny corner where I can grow roses. I've dreamed about it for years and years."

So Sue's dad had given in. Now their neighbors were mostly white. When Sue started her junior year at Lakeview High, she found the majority of the students to be white. Sue missed her old school, where, if she hadn't exactly been popular, at least she'd been comfortable. After three weeks at Lakeview, Sue hadn't said much more to her classmates than "Is this seat taken?" The kids weren't mean to her and a few, like Mia, were actually friendly. But even in her old school Sue had been a loner. She didn't make friends as easily as her older sister, Rochelle, who seemed to be able to fit in just by flashing her smile.

When Sue walked from the auditorium to her bus stop, Mia was already standing there. "So did you make it into the orchestra?"

Sue gave a modest smile. "Yeah."

"Great! You'll like Mr. Baxter. Everybody says he's sharp and doesn't miss a single mistake, but he isn't mean when he corrects you."

Suddenly, a deeper voice piped up behind them. "I heard you audition today. Sounded smooth!"
Sue turned around and felt herself blushing. It was the violinist she'd admired--musically and physically.

"Thanks," Sue and Mia said at the same time. Sue wondered which of them had impressed him. Or
maybe he meant both of them? Maybe he was just trying to be friendly?

The violinist turned to grin at Sue. "Maybe we can set up our instruments and play a duet sometime?"

Sue laughed nervously. He was talking to her!

Mia smiled. "Sue, this is Andy Suzuki, our superstar violinist."

Sue opened her mouth, but nothing came out. Luckily, her bus pulled up just then. Looking from the bus to Andy and back, she jumped onto the bus in a daze.

As she slumped into a seat, she replayed his name in her mind. Andy Suzuki. There was something
about that name . . . Then, all of a sudden, it hit her with the force of a speeding train. Suzuki! He must be Japanese. Sue caught her breath, trying to brush it off. After all, what's wrong with flirting with a Japanese American boy?

But Sue knew the answer. Her grandmother would kill her. And her mother would be furious if she dated a Japanese boy. That was what was wrong.

But hey, he was only flirting. He hasn't asked for a date yet. He doesn't even know my last name. Who knows, his parents might be the same way. He might be turned off if he finds out I'm Chinese.