In Frankly in Love by David Yoon, Frank Li is the barely-speaks-Korean-Korean son of Korean parents living in Southern California. His parents have sacrificed everything for him and have expectations of their son who simply wants to be a regular American teen, doing regular American teen things like falling in love—even if his love interest isn’t Korean.
Before this excerpt, Frank explains how his parents “inherited the store from an older Korean couple” to ensure that the store stayed in “Good, Korean hands.” He explains how the store is open year-round and that his parents never take a vacation. For more from this excerpt and to see how the author uses detail, listing, and imagery to develop character and set the tone and mood, see page 11 of Frankly in Love.
Read the excerpt (found on pages 11-12) that follows:
The Store is an hour-long drive from the dystopian perfection of my suburban home of Playa Mesa. It’s in a poor, sun-crumbled part of Southern California largely populated by Mexican- and African-Americans. A world away.
The poor customers give Mom-n-Dad food stamps, which become money, which becomes college tuition for me.
It’s the latest version of the American dream.
I hope the next version of the American dream doesn’t involve gouging people for food stamps.
I’m at The Store now. I’m leaning against the counter. Its varnish is worn in the middle like a tree ring, showing the history of every transaction that’s ever been slid across its surface: candy and beer and diapers and milk and beer and ice cream and beer and beer.
“At the airport,” I once explained to Q, “they hand out title deeds by ethnicity. So the Greeks get diners, the Chinese get laundromats, and the Koreans get liquor stores.
“So that’s how America works,” said Q, taking a deeply ironic bite of his burrito.
Read the excerpt (found on page 25) that follows:
Traffic is super light—just a stream of lights rocketing along at eighty-five miles per hour—and already up to Chinese. Dad points it out,
“This all Chinese now,” he says. “Used to be Mexican, now totally Chinese. They take over whole this area. Look, signs say HONG FU XIAN blablabla, ha ha ha.”
“Chang-chong-ching-chong,” says Mom, laughing too.
“You guys,” I say.
“They eating everything,” says Dad. “Piggy ear, piggy tail, chicken feet, everything they eating,”
I facepalm, but with my knee. Koreans eat quote-weird-end-quote stuff too: sea cucumbers, live octopus, acorn jelly, all of it delicious. White people, black people, Indian, Jamaican, Mexican, people-people eat weird, delicious stuff.
I want to say all of this, but I find I can’t. It’ll just get me nowhere. My parents are just stuck on thinking Koreans are special.
Gross but Good: Have students select a meal they like that they think others might not. Students will write a review of the meal. They can read examples of food reviews from the Pulitzer Prize winning food critic Jonathan Gold. Have students include an image of the meal to accompany their writing. As an alternative, students can explain how to prepare the meal.
Deed of Title: Explain the restaurant, shop, store, type of business you would be handed at the airport.
Free Write: Finish the following line from the excerpt. Be sure to explain your thinking: “I hope the next version of the American dream…”
Say What You Mean: Read the last line from the excerpt. Explain your opinion on what the narrator has expressed. “I want to say all of this, but I find I can’t. It’ll just get me nowhere. My parents are just stuck on thinking Koreans are special.”
Download the lesson below in a convenient pdf to print or save!
Michael M. Guevara, recipient of a 2019 Book Love Foundation Grant, spends his days advocating for choice reading and authentic literacy instruction. An Academic Trainer in a large urban high school in San Antonio, Texas, Michael works with teachers on improving their literacy instruction and uses choice reading to help students achieve academic success. A former K-12 ELAR coordinator, Michael has served as president of The Texas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts and an NCTE committee chair. He recently served on the Texas state standards revision committee that developed new literacy standards adopted by Texas in 2017. His workshops with teachers focus on mentor texts and authentic student writing from their choice reading. Michael is working on a professional development book for literacy educators and currently has agents reading the manuscript of his young adult novel The Closest Thing to a Normal Life.