I am continuing with the Book Review project, list found here. This is definitely my favorite book so far as well as Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre, which coincidentally just won a Belpre Illustrator Honor award.
Frankly in Love (Frankly in Love #1) by David Yoon
Summary from Goodreads: “High school senior Frank Li is a Limbo–his term for Korean-American kids who find themselves caught between their parents’ traditional expectations and their own Southern California upbringing. His parents have one rule when it comes to romance–“Date Korean”–which proves complicated when Frank falls for Brit Means, who is smart, beautiful–and white. Fellow Limbo Joy Song is in a similar predicament, and so they make a pact: they’ll pretend to date each other in order to gain their freedom. Frank thinks it’s the perfect plan, but in the end, Frank and Joy’s fake-dating maneuver leaves him wondering if he ever really understood love–or himself–at all.”
I listened to the audiobook version and I loved it! It was so hilarious and yet gave us a serious look at racism in America through the eyes of Korean-American high school senior, within and outside his culture. Also seriously made me crave Korean food.
Honestly it reminded me a lot of listening to my best friend in high school and college. She’s Pakistani-American and even though she was born in the States, there was so much familial pressure for her to get married, not only to a Muslim, but specifically a Pakistani Muslim man. She later discovered this did not work for her, and would prefer whoever she marries to just be a good honest man (preferably Muslim). I have talked with a lot of international immigrants, having worked with a lot over the years, and find that most that come to America face the same pressures from their parents. And like Frank, they are almost forced to choose by being whatever their parent’s nationality is or American, but seldom both. Frank falls hard for Brit Means, and I think she was good for him as a first girlfriend but because of all the pretending he has to do to be with her, it probably never would’ve worked out anyways. He somehow never managed to tell her and I think she would’ve ended it sooner if she had found out. And then even when Joy and Frank get together they can’t make it because of their parents’ fighting, for completely different reasons. Highly recommended for ages 15+, 5 stars.