Melody is Korean-American, not Korean-Korean—she doesn’t even speak the language. When her parents transplant her to Seoul during her junior year, she’s stunned by the lavish lifestyle they’ve kept hidden from her, one that includes a five-bedroom villa and arranged dates with rich classmates. As she uncovers other secrets, she must confront what she thought she knew about her family to make this new city feel like home.
New Yorkers throw things away too easily. Inside our clubhouse, I’m painting patterns on a wooden stool I snagged from 44th and 8th, wiping away sweat every few seconds so it doesn’t drip onto the wet paint. The clubhouse is really just a walk-in closet inside a condemned building covered with vines and sometimes bugs—harmless ones, hopefully. I’m determined to finish the stool before junior year starts next week and sneaking away becomes harder, especially if I want to stay the top student.
Sophia looks at me from the floor, where she has her legs propped against the wall and her curly black hair tied up in a bun. “Wait, tell me again why you’re so suspicious of your mom.”
“She talks to my dad maybe once a month,” I say. “If that. These past two weeks, she’s been on the phone with him almost every day. And she always closes her door.”
“I think I’m more impressed they can talk that often from opposite ends of the world.”
Maybe it’s weird to other people, but I’ve never known another living situation. My appa lives in Seoul, and while I’ve never been, he visits us exactly twice a year—no more, no less. To me, Korea is what I see on TV during my mom’s K-drama marathons: boys with over-the-top romantic gestures and girls who never sweat no matter how fast they run.