Let me start off by saying that this might have some slight spoilers in it. I haven’t really planned it out all that much, so I’m not sure what details this post might contain. Also, this is a rant, which means that I will be discussing some parts of the book that I did not particularly like at all.
Okay, first of all, I think that this is a cutesy book, and it has a lot of potential. You don’t really see a lot of POC in YA novels, so it was nice to see some representation. However, that being said, the representation was butchered completely. I’m not sure Rowell did her research while writing her novel. For example, the name Park? As his first name? No. I’m South Korean, and so I have a Korean name; Kim En-il. However, the Kim acts as a surname; Caesaria Kim. Park as his first name doesn’t make sense.
This whole novel, just seems racist to me. And I’m aware that at the time period that it was set in, the characters would definitely have different mindsets towards people of different ethnicity as we do today (and even still, there are racists in this world). However, it seemed like the author didn’t even know that she was being racist? Throughout the novel in the perspective of Eleanor, we get to see a lot of her thoughts towards Park. And a lot of them are centered around the fact that he’s Asian.
Why. Why, why, why. What reason was there to put in Asian? Why is this so important? Yes, there is a story arc about Park being insecure for being the only Asian, and more specifically South Korean (half), in his town. BUT WE NEVER SEE THAT FROM HIS PERSPECTIVE. If it was so important to him, why did he never think about it? It’s always Eleanor that’s talking about his ethnicity. Seriously, almost every compliment she gives him has to do with the fact that he’s Korean.
I don’t even know what to say about this paragraph. I really don’t. Expanding on what I said before, everything that Eleanor says about Park is fetishist to the point where I don’t even know what to think anymore. She’s always talking about his “yellow skin”, or his “beautiful almond shaped eyes” (like that hasn’t been said before), and I feel like she never even appreciated Park as a person. Eleanor set him up on this pedestal, as him being Korean, and kept mentioning his ethnicity, as if we would forget it.
“Park’s eyes got wide. Well, sort of wide. Sometimes she wondered if the shape of his eyes affected how he saw things. That was probably the most racist question of all time.”
Holy. Shit. I have no comment to add here, except to say that maybe writing this review was a bad idea, because now I’m getting really angry, and I probably won’t be able to focus on my math homework that I’m doing later. You bet it’s racist. What was the point of even putting it in there? Is it supposed to make me laugh, because it’s making me do the opposite.
Another thing that bothered me personally, is the fact that Park had green eyes. Technically, brown eyes are dominant, so Park should have inherited his mother’s brown eyes, but let’s ignore that for now. What annoyed me, is that it seemed like he wasn’t good enough with just brown eyes. And I know the author wasn’t trying to imply anything, maybe she just wanted for him to have green eyes, but to me, it felt like, you’re not good enough to be full Asian. You have to have something exotic about you. And that irritated the hell out of me.
Now, I’ve heard a lot of arguments saying that’s it’s okay that Eleanor has a thing for Park because he’s Asian. I agree. It’s fine to have a thing. But this girl has a full on fetish. And having a fetish leads to a lot of serious implications such as rape. I’m not saying that this novel is promoting rape, but it sure isn’t doing anything against it. This book was just way too focused on Park’s ethnicity. If he had mentioned it more, I would have understood. But there was no reason for Eleanor to be obsessing over him almost every page.
This was my rant. If you enjoyed this book, that’s fine, this is just my opinion.