Can a Korean character, with Korean concerns and a Korean family be a main character in American fiction? Both this book and Eleanor & Park have half-Korean kids as protagonists, with one foot ethnically in Korean territory and yet the entire rest of their identity rooted in middle America. Even Re Jane's character is half-Korean, her Korean link orphaned since her infancy. Yes, she struggles slightly with her Korean self, and she sometimes uses Korean words to describe her family in Queens, but overall she could be anyone. She leans to converse fluently, and becomes intimate, literally, with the white, educated elite.
I'm not complaining, just wondering what is possible here. Are these authors creating half-Korean characters to physically manifest the experience of being a hyphenated identity? Or is it crutch to appeal to more of the American audience? I'm currently writing a book that involves Korean themes and Korean characters, and I've struggled with this myself. Maybe the "acceptance" of Asian protagonists in literature is like the acceptance of black actors and actresses in American media - something that happens in gradated shades of transition.
And that makes me wonder - must the acceptance of a racialized main character in literature come before the acceptance of a racialized main character in visual media? After all, literature is half-blind, in a sense.
That's all to say, this book was really cute and I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though the plot seemed to be a bit cliche when I first started and the writing a bit simplistic.