Brimming with nerdy humor and warm feels, Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon is the perfect rom-com to snuggle up with over break.
Since moving from Arroyo Plato to Rancho Ruby, a wealthier, higher class Southern California neighborhood, Sunny Dae has kept his life packed away in white plastic containers. His second-generation Korean parents spend 24 hours a day glued to their iPads, obsessed with work. His older brother Gray, not wanting to be like their parents, moved to Hollywood to chase his rockstar dreams. Sunny spends all his time, not with his family, but with his best friends and fellow huge nerds, Milo and Jamal. The three spend all their time unapologetically on their nerdy pursuits, whether it’s playing DnD, LARPing, or making videos about both.
Yes, he gets bullied constantly, by one big baddie in particular. But for the most part, he’s happy with his life.
Enter Cirrus Soh. Immediately, Sunny is smitten. Cirrus has lived all over the world. She has friends in every country, she speaks different languages, she dresses differently… everything about her oozes cool. Sunny knows he can never be on her level, but he desperately wants to. When she mistakes Gray’s room for his, he sees his opportunity. She assumes he’s in a band, and instead of correcting her, he dives headfirst into the lie. He manages to convince Milo and Jamal to join his rock band, and they begin to practice for the upcoming talent show.
Unexpectedly, Gray comes home, throws a wrench in Sunny’s plans, and fills him with questions. Why is Gray home all of the sudden? Has he given up his dreams? And most importantly, will he expose Sunny?
The longer the lie goes on, the more Sunny isn’t sure what is real and what is not. Sunny knows that he’s a nerd, not a rockstar. And yet, when he puts on his loose, brightly colored nerdy shirts, he doesn’t feel comfortable in them anymore. He likes his new, darker clothes. He likes people in the halls knowing his name. He likes getting lost in the music during band practice. He knows that he’s faking, but he doesn’t quite know what the real Sunny looks like anymore.
In the midst of a light, fun story, identity is explored in an incredibly interesting way. At the beginning of the story, Sunny thought he knew who he was—a huge nerd. As he strives to be more and more like his brother, however, he realizes that really, he’s a coward, a coward who keeps his life hidden from the rest of the world instead of being confident in who he is. Weirdly enough, pretending to be someone else had made him want to be himself even more.
Identity is a huge part of high school, and so it made perfect sense to explore that theme in a book that is so perfectly high school. What really stood out to me in this novel was the voice. Seeing the story through Sunny’s eyes felt exactly like living in the mind of a nerdy teenage boy. He constantly makes nerdy references in his mind, comparing different elements of high school life to things he understands, like video games. He’s also funny, insecure, and relatable. I thoroughly enjoyed being along for the ride with him.
In this story, I also loved the relationships, but funnily enough, not the romantic one. While Cirrus and Sunny are cute together, and I don’t dislike her as a character, she just didn’t stick out to me. I was much more interested in Sunny and his friends, who had such a pure, supportive friendship and hilarious banter. My favorite scenes were the ones where it was just the three of them. I also think Yoon does a great job in both this novel and his previous one, Frankly in Love, with tackling family relationships and expectations in very different ways. While Frankly in Love dealt with pressure from parents to respect your culture, Super Fake Love Song handles the pressure to live up to the opportunities your parents gave you, and it does this through the relationship between Sunny and Gray, a rare sibling relationship that is written very well.
I know these themes sound heavy, but I promise that the book is an absolute delight to read! When writing this, David Yoon clearly prioritized having fun over everything else, and I’m grateful for it. This is a funny, heartwarming story about friendship and family, and it is guaranteed to make you smile.
Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon is now available wherever books are sold.