Heiress Apparently by Diana Ma is a story of family secrets that also touches upon the film industry’s perpetuation of harmful stereotypes. I enjoyed the Beijing setting, and the main character’s excitement for acting and desire to challenge offensive Asian representation was a pleasant surprise. The pacing is slow, but there are still many elements of the book that I found enjoyable that outweigh this.Title: Heiress Apparently (Daughters of the Dynasty #1)
Series: Daughters of the Dynasty #1
Author: Diana Ma
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: December 1, 2020
The first book in an epic and romantic YA series following the fictionalized descendants of the only officially recognized empress regent of China
Gemma Huang is a recent transplant to Los Angeles from Illinois, having abandoned plans for college to pursue a career in acting, much to the dismay of her parents. Now she’s living with three roommates in a two-bedroom hovel, auditioning for bit roles that hardly cover rent. Gemma’s big break comes when she’s asked to play a lead role in an update of M. Butterfly filming for the summer in Beijing. When she arrives, she’s stopped by paparazzi at the airport. She quickly realizes she may as well be the twin of one of the most notorious young socialites in Beijing. Thus kicks off a summer of revelations, in which Gemma uncovers a legacy her parents have spent their lives protecting her from—one her mother would conceal from her daughter at any cost.
❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃
Review: Heiress Apparently by Diana Ma
This book tells the story of a girl who gets cast to play the lead role in a movie and travels to Beijing for filming, despite her mother’s ominous warning that she should never set foot in Beijing. When she arrives, she realizes she looks exactly like a famous socialite, and she doesn’t understand why the paparazzi are so interested in her. I always love to see books with a theme of family, so these aspects were engaging for me. This book also has a great setting, and I loved getting to experience the culture of Beijing along with Gemma.
❀ Interesting Main Character
Gemma herself is an interesting character, and I enjoyed her voice. It is easy to feel her passion for acting, and I loved how she follows her dreams despite what her parents, and everyone else, think. Through her character, there is an important commentary on the casting of Asian characters to fit harmful stereotypes. While she is working on the film, Gemma learns to speak up and question the representation within the director’s vision. I was not expecting this aspect, but I found that it was well done.
❀ Pacing is a bit off
One of my main issues with the book is the pacing. To me, it is so slow, but also so rushed. There is a lot of filler as well as many info dumps, which I didn’t care for, and I had trouble focusing on this one. I also think the twists could have been better executed as much of the book is almost painfully predictable. However, I was willing to somewhat overlook this because of the book’s messages.
❀ Family Secrets and Chinese History
Heiress Apparently by Diana Ma is a story about family and challenging harmful representations on screen. I loved the setting and the main character’s passion for acting. However, I wasn’t a fan of the slow pacing, but while the book is very predictable, I was mostly willing to forgive this. I would recommend this to those who are interested in books about family secrets, and learning more about Chinese history along the way.