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Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Justina Chen

Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Justina Chen is about one girl’s struggle to find the light, even as her whole world has been plunged into darkness. (Transcript)


lovely dark and deep

In today’s episode…


In Justina Chen’s newest novel, Lovely, Dark, and Deep, Viola Li has her life plan figured out—she wants to become a journalist in the most dangerous parts of the world, the opposite of her risk-averse parents. But when she suddenly develops a light sensitivity that leaves her unable to go outside or even sit under a bright light, all her dreams start to seem impossible. Viola has to figure out a way to keep her some control over her life as she struggles to navigate relationships with her parents, sister, and new potential-boyfriend, all while trying to avoid the blistering light that can be dangerous and even lethal.


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Episode highlights…



*1:20 Amanda’s childhood obsession with Dean Koontz

*2:35 Danielle’s “always” obsession with Firefly

*4:11 Viola’s parents, the crisis managers


Things We Like a Latte:


Danielle: A game show escape room 


Amanda: The video game Okami


UP NEXT: The Forest Queen by Betsy Cornwell 

Pre-order your copy!


*10:16 The thread of Firefly that runs through this whole novel

*14:54 The ‘resolution’ of this book compared to Everything, Everything

*16:20 We loved Viola’s ‘third option’


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More ideas and resources for teachers and librarians…


One themes of Lovely, Dark, and Deep is Viola’s love of the show Firefly. If you listened to the episode you will know that Danielle is also a huge Firefly fan. (It’s a great show, gone too soon, y’all *sniffle*.) Learn more about how to use TV shows in your ELA classroom.




Get in touch with us on Instagram and Twitter at @yacafepodcast or email us at We look forward to hearing from you!




Hosts: Danielle Hall (who blogs at

          & Amanda Thrasher (a booklover extraordinaire)

Producer: Leila Hobbs

Music: Matt McCammon


Thanks to Scholastic for the review copy!


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