Frankly in Love

High school senior Frank Li is the "silent hyphen" in Korean-American: an entity that bridges two cultures without ever taking a full step toward either one, a "Limbo," as he calls it. "I'm not Korean enough," he thinks, but "not white enough to be fully American." He's expected to study hard, go to a top college and marry a nice Korean girl (unlike his sister, who was disowned when she married a black man). Instead, he falls for an "American" (i.e., white) classmate. To appease his parents and satisfy his desire to date outside the "tribe," he concocts a plan with fellow Limbo Joy Song, who hides her Chinese-American boyfriend from her family. The two agree to "fake-date," but what should "work gangbusters" backfires, ultimately teaching Frank that "there's no greater will than the will to love who you want."

In Frankly in Love, David Yoon presents a candid, insightful look at the experience of second-gen Korean-Americans. Delivered with witty banter and Frank's nerdy metaphors--"There are too many worlds in my head... and really all I want to do is reach escape velocity, bust out into space, and form my own planet tweaked just how I want it."--the everyday struggles of a teenager straddling two communities is deftly expressed. Yoon also adroitly deconstructs racial bias, including examples of both overt and unconscious prejudices present in immigrants and their American-born children, within communities of color and among white liberals.

In his debut novel, Yoon examines love in the context of cultural identity, expertly tackling sensitive issues with nuance and a bit of humor. --Lana Barnes, freelance reviewer and proofreader

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