Book Review & Aesthetic: Anna K. by Jenny Lee

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Diversity Representation: Biracial Korean main character, own voices

Content Warnings: drug addiction, car accident, loss of a loved one, racism, mental illness, revenge porn, addiction, drug use, underage drinking, sex, suicide ideation, overdose

Stunning, intoxicating, consuming, and glamorous!

Anna K. was a book that Sarah (at Girl on Books) has been telling me to read since October. Like every other week. We even buddy watched Anna Karenina, the movie with Kiera Knightly, back in November for preparation. I’m so glad she was so persistent, because this book was so much fun. It was exactly what I expected, in that I love it in the same way I loved Gossip Girl when it was on TV. But Anna K recasts Anna Karenina as a half Korean woman! It’s so rare to find half Asian protagonists in books, I’m so so happy to finally see more of that.

“Every happy teenage girl is the same, while every unhappy teenage girl is miserable in her own special way.”

Anna K. follows the story of Anna Karenina pretty well, but with different characters and in a different setting. It’s about the intoxicating and overwhelming story of rich kids in NYC falling in love for the first time, but having to abide by socialite rules and standards of the New York Elite. It has all that you want from Anna Karenina (the intoxicating love, the scandalous twists and turns), but none of the things that didn’t age well from Tolstoy’s version from 1877.

As much as I wish I had read Anna Karenina before reading this book, I think watching the movie was fine in order to see the parallels. Though I know I definitely missed some direct references and allegories that connect the books (Jenny Lee knows her stuff!), I was still able to really enjoy this read! But I didn’t miss that Jenny Lee wrote her dog, Gemma, into this! How cute!

“Because just like you need to be where I am, I need to be where you are.”

My favorite part (aside from the fun twists in the romance, of course!) was the subtle microaggressions that Jenny Lee was able to squeeze into this. The best part about it was that no one was really in this book that wasn’t a serious character, they were all friends with each other. All of the small racist moments came from friends. Friends who didn’t realize they were being racist. People who say nice things, but are abiding by a stereotype to make assumptions about their friend. It was so real and I’m so glad that got included. Because that happens.

I’m more than excited to read the sequel. Especially because I’m sure it will end up being some kind of buddy read!!! Which of course is way more exciting. It even comes out this month, so it couldn’t have been better timing for me to read this! Anna K. Away, here I come!!


And of course, the most fun part, the Anna K. aesthetic board! I hope everyone’s likes this one as well! They’re so fun to make.

Big Takeaway

Anna K. was exactly what I wanted, it was glam, fun, twisty, intoxicating, and full of that incredibly overwhelming first love feeling. I was so incredibly happy to see a mixed main character, it took my breath away. Anyone can be as glam as they want, especially in books! Thank you, Jenny Lee!

About the Author

Jenny Lee is a television writer and producer who has worked on BET’s Boomerang, IFC’s Brockmire, Freeform’s Young & Hungry, and the Disney Channel’s number-one-rated kids’ show, Shake It Up. Jenny is the author of four humor essay collections and two middle grade novels. Anna K: A Love Story is her debut YA novel. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and 135-pound Newfoundland, Gemma (and yes, it’s a toss-up on who’s walking who every day). Photo courtesy of Jackson Berlin.

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