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In The Half of It (2020), Ellie Chu, a young immigrant Chinese American girl and the sole Asian American in her school, grieves the loss of her mother. Her world, however, is largely determined by her relationships with her peers. A classmate, Paul Munsky, a gentle, white jock, pays her to write love letters to a Latinx classmate, Aster Flores, with whom Ellie is also in love. Letters and texts convey the psychic power of love, intimacy, and desire while becoming a way for these young people to navigate the various cultural complexes of their worlds. When Ellie and Aster meet in person, the act of listening to music and feeling the sensations of sound while immersed in water depict the cerebral dimensions of intimacy and interconnectedness, expanding adolescent sexuality beyond the act of touching bodies, in a direct challenge to the hookup culture that defines many young people today.

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