Despite the number of books I devoured growing up, it was rare to read stories centered on main characters like me: a girl of Asian and American descent raised by immigrant parents. All the books I read about Asian experiences tended to revolve around the narrative that the characters’ struggles were somehow different or extraordinary, said from the point of view that they were “other”. And while these stories are important, I remember thinking that I just wanted to read a book with an Asian character whose struggles were entirely ordinary – just an average person going through completely average things that anyone can go through regardless of their race. I wanted to have confirmation that Asians could also be worthy of relatable experiences, and I wanted that to be normalized in the stories I read.
When I first started reading contemporary romance as an adult, the main Asian-American characters became even rarer. In fact, I don’t think I read a single book with an AA track until a few years ago – and I’ve been reading novels for at least 10 years now. The good news is that the landscape of romance has changed, with more representation in writers, books, and characters. Here are a few of those books, the ones I’ve read myself, that feature one or both of the main Asian-American characters. There’s still a lot of work to be done to describe Asian romance as worthy, but it’s a start, and I’m delighted to see this list grow.