The Many Masks of Andy Zhou

Jacket art with Chinese-American boy on freeway overpass, clutching backpack strap and sketchbook. Walking toward viewer.
Jacket art: Yuta Onoda
  • Junior Library Guild selection
  • Kids’ Indie Next List Pick

The Many Masks of Andy Zhou is my second novel for young readers. While the story itself is fiction, many of the scenes and details are based on my personal experiences growing up as a Chinese-American kid in Metro Detroit.

Andy Zhou is used to being what people need him to be: the good kid for his parents and, now, his grandparents in from Shanghai, or the helpful sidekick for his best friend Cindy’s plans and schemes. So when Cindy decides they should try out for Movement on the first day of sixth grade, how can Andy say no? But between feeling out of place with the dancers after school, being hassled by his new science partner Jameel in class, and sensing tension between his dad and grandfather at home, Andy feels all kinds of weird. Then over anime, Hi-Chews, and art, things start to shift between Andy and Jameel, opening up new doors—and new problems. Because no matter how much Andy cares about his friends and family, it’s hard not to feel pulled between all the ways he’s meant to be, all the different faces he wears, and harder still to figure out if any of these masks is the real him.

What Folks are Saying

“Readers will find a friend in Andy—a kind-hearted kid trying to find his footing while caring for those around him. Andy contains multitudes, like all of us. Another beautiful book by Jack Cheng.” – Erin Entrada Kelly, Newbery Award-winning author of Hello, Universe

“This book sings with beautiful writing and rich detail. Seeing Andy come into his own is a joy and a journey.” – Tae Keller, Newbery Award-winning author of When You Trap a Tiger

“Andy’s quiet courage and budding artistry has readers cheering him on as he searches to define himself and learns there are no boundaries to who we are—and who we can become. With honesty and gentle humor, Jack Cheng explores the joys and heartaches of growing up.” – Paula Yoo, National Book Award longlisted-author of From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry

“Cheng succeeds in capturing the nuances of shifting relationship dynamics during the vulnerable early years of adolescence, including mental health struggles . . . . The story has a sincere heart that will resonate with tweens as they recognize themselves and their friends in the pages. A perceptive coming-of-age tale that captures the joys and complex anxieties of middle school.” – Kirkus

“[A] realistic, character-driven middle-grade story that explores multiple issues . . . . Compelling.” – Booklist

“There’s an aching poignancy [here]. This moving novel about self-discovery will resonate with kids navigating the shifting waters of middle school.” – BCCB

“A beautiful, contemplative novel that will stay with readers. Recommended for fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and Nicole Melleby.” – School Library Journal

“Cheng draws on personal experience, detailed in an author’s note, to pen this novel of internal and interpersonal tensions that touches on mental health . . . The message of becoming one’s authentic self comes through loud and clear.” – Publishers Weekly


The audiobook is available through Penguin Random House Audio/Listening Library. It’s read by the multi-talented Eddy Lee. Here’s an excerpt:

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