Having been a teen in the ‘90s, I am an unabashed lover of high school comedies, romantic or otherwise. And while I vastly preferred 10 Things I Hate about You to Sixteen Candles, which highlighted the infamous racist stereotype of Long Duk Dong, there still weren’t many stories where the characters looked like me. Even on the page, there wasn’t much more than Amy Tan’s first novel The Joy Luck Club available at that time.
Luckily young adult literature is currently a more inclusive genre these days, especially when it comes to racial representation. David Yoon’s Super Fake Love Song is rooted in the Asian American experience, particularly that of Sunny Dae, our third-generation Korean teenage narrator who is growing up in an affluent, almost all white suburb. Super Fake Love Song is a fun, geeky story that highlights ever-present teenage motivation to be cool. In particular, to be cool in the eyes of the new, cute and cosmopolitan Korean girl that just moved to the neighborhood.
Before the new girl comes on the scene, Sunny runs a YouTube channel with his best pals that specializes in making affordable Live Action Role Playing (LARP) gear; gets bullied by the school’s football star; and desperately misses his charismatic older brother Gray. (Yes, there are a lot of weather-related names; even the cute, new girl is named Cirrus.) Sunny spends much of the book stealing black shirts from his brother’s old closet and convinces his besties to pretend to be in a band with him to impress Cirrus. Cue ridiculous, relatable teenage hijinks.
While Cirrus’ appearance in the story is the key event that kicks off the plot, Yoon deftly weaves the themes of belonging, understanding yourself, the complexity of families, and friendship throughout the book. These underlying themes are ever present, but do not dampen the light, but authentically awkward and tender tone of the book.
Super Fake Love Song is a great pick for those who love Gene Luen Yang, Jenny Han and Yoon’s wife Nicola Yoon who wrote the fantastic The Sun Is Also A Star. It also pairs well with the movie adaptation of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and the excellent The Half of It, both of which can be currently found on Netflix.