An Instant New York Times Bestseller and #1 Indie Bestseller!
A William C. Morris YA Debut Award Finalist
An Asian Pacific American Librarians Association Honor Book
Two friends. One fake dating scheme. What could possibly go wrong?
Frank Li has two names. There's Frank Li, his American name. Then there's Sung-Min Li, his Korean name. No one uses his Korean name, not even his parents. Frank barely speaks any Korean. He was born and raised in Southern California.
Even so, his parents still expect him to end up with a nice Korean girl--which is a problem, since Frank is finally dating the girl of his dreams: Brit Means. Brit, who is funny and nerdy just like him. Brit, who makes him laugh like no one else. Brit . . . who is white.
As Frank falls in love for the very first time, he's forced to confront the fact that while his parents sacrificed everything to raise him in the land of opportunity, their traditional expectations don't leave a lot of room for him to be a regular American teen. Desperate to be with Brit without his parents finding out, Frank turns to family friend Joy Song, who is in a similar bind. Together, they come up with a plan to help each other and keep their parents off their backs. Frank thinks he's found the solution to all his problems, but when life throws him a curveball, he's left wondering whether he ever really knew anything about love—or himself—at all.
In this moving debut novel—featuring striking blue stained edges and beautiful original endpaper art by the author—David Yoon takes on the question of who am I? with a result that is humorous, heartfelt, and ultimately unforgettable.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
For readers craving a YA romance with depth, David Yoon’s debut is a can’t-miss. Frank Li is a first-generation Korean American teenager who finally finds a girl he’s into, but knows that his strict parents won’t approve of him dating a white girl. Enter Frank’s friend Joy, whose parents would never approve of her relationship with a Chinese boy. At first, hatching a fake relationship to keep up appearances for their parents—while still seeing their real significant others on the side—seems like the perfect answer to Frank and Joy’s problems. And then things get complicated. This semiautobiographical first novel digs into serious themes like racism, family, and sexuality with wit and compassion, but it’s also breezily hilarious. Honestly, we’d be happy to see any of these charming characters get together!
Caught in a brawl between romance and family expectations, Frank Li isn't sure which one will knock him out first. His Korean immigrant parents have already disowned his sister for dating a non-Korean, so when Frank falls for a white classmate, he settles on a con. His partner in crime is fellow Korean-American Joy Song, and together they begin a for-their-parents'-eyes relationship that allows them to spend time with their real crushes but might not be so fake after all. Yoon's debut examines issues of identity through a significant but often-overlooked subset of the Korean diaspora in California: working-class immigrants and their first-generation children. Frank's parents' racism is overtly presented alongside classism, microaggressions, and prejudice that subtly touch all characters. Yoon never settles for stereotypes, instead giving his well-defined characters a diversity of experience, identity, sexuality, and ambition. Told in youthful-sounding prose, Frank's journey reaches beyond Korean-American identity and touches on the common experiences of many children of immigrants, including negotiating language barriers, tradition, and other aspects of what it means to be a "hyphenated" American. Ages 14 up.