I was thinking about this book after I read about the cancellation of Kim’s Convenience and how a spin-off series is being created around the only non-Asian character in the show.
They stopped the series after its fifth season (it was supposed to have six). Then decided the only non-Asian character would become the star of a new series?? Ugh.
So this book doesn’t exactly have a direct link with that (although Kim’s Convenience is mentioned in it!). But it does have a young Chinese-American actress who clinches a starring role in a movie.
But it’s being filmed in China. A country that Gemma’s parents have told her never to go to. She goes anyway. And it turns out she looks a lot like a socialite and influencer named Alyssa Chua.
And that’s because… they’re cousins!
Sounds rather soap opera-like, doesn’t it? Very dramatic. And there are some elements in the story that didn’t quite gel with me but I decided to let that go and keep reading.
The author wrote that she wanted to write a story that she wanted to read when she was a teenager. A story that had Asian-Americans who went on adventures and had romances. And that she did.
This was a book my teenaged self might have enjoyed. I didn’t grow up as a minority as Singapore is about 76% Chinese. But pretty much all the books I read were by American and British writers. And I don’t remember reading many (any?) books with Asian characters. Much less one with an Asian actress as a lead character.
I liked when the characters discussed life as an Asian actor. How there aren’t many roles for Asian actors. How they know every Asian actor and the roles they played. How, when the film industry thinks of an Asian woman, it’s of someone who’s “small-framed with delicate features”.
Anyway, this was Heiress Apparently by Diana Ma. Pictured alongside a salad of cherry tomatoes, avocado, homegrown radish and basil.