Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout

Summary (from Goodreads):
A teen escapes to a boarding school abroad and falls for a Korean pop star in this fun and fresh romantic novel in the vein of Anna and the French Kiss.

Grace Wilde is running—from the multi-million dollar mansion her record producer father bought, the famous older brother who’s topped the country music charts five years in a row, and the mother who blames her for her brother’s breakdown. Grace escapes to the farthest place from home she can think of, a boarding school in Korea, hoping for a fresh start.

She wants nothing to do with music, but when her roommate Sophie’s twin brother Jason turns out to be the newest Korean pop music superstar, Grace is thrust back into the world of fame. She can't stand Jason, whose celebrity status is only outmatched by his oversized ego, but they form a tenuous alliance for the sake of her friendship with Sophie. As the months go by and Grace adjusts to her new life in Korea, even she can't deny the sparks flying between her and the KPOP idol.

Soon, Grace realizes that her feelings for Jason threaten her promise to herself that she'll leave behind the music industry that destroyed her family. But can Grace ignore her attraction to Jason and her undeniable pull of the music she was born to write? Sweet, fun, and romantic, this young adult novel explores what it means to experience first love and discover who you really are in the process.
Again, I found myself reading a book I wasn’t quite expecting. I wasn’t expecting to have so much feels in this one. But, I had a lengthy, teary-eyed moment here. And I normally like some kind of warning of sadness so I can mentally prepare. Also, I was expecting this to be a little more about KPOP than it was.
I’ve also noticed that this book has some mixed reviews. A common opinion seems to be that Grace is almost too “American” and un-accepting of a new culture. And while I agree with this in the beginning, I’m not so sure about this by the end. Grace does a lot of growing up in this book. It takes her a long time to be able to see the beauty of Korea. There’s a lot of culture shock, and strong unwillingness to accept difference and change. But, I think this has more to do with Grace’s situation that she left behind than anything else.
Also, I like that Grace grows up. She learns to be a more accepting person. She sees her flaws and wants to fix them. She learns from her ignorance. And watching that happen was amazing.
I also kind of feel that a lot of the reasons people didn’t like this book had more to do with marketing. I was expecting a fluffy romance with KPOP elements. This is not what I got. It was more a coming of age story set in a foreign country, then it was romantic comedy. And KPOP was not the main focus. It wasn’t a major focus at all. In fact, a lot of the time, it’s mocked by the main character. So, I could see why someone (like a KPOP fan) would be super excited to read this, and super then disappointed.
I took a Korean class in high school, and I learned about the music and dramas then. I enjoyed them, though I’m by no means a huge fan. So, I guess some of the things that were said didn’t bother me too much. I’m not a big pop music listener, period. But, I can see why people might not like this because of what the book looks like it promises. It was more about coming to terms with change, sadness, and love then it was about the music or culture of a country.
I mostly loved it. I connected to Grace. I would also sweat my face off from all the walking, be ill-prepared to use chopsticks, and not know how to make friends, etc. I liked watching her grow. I loved her roommate and her sister. I loved watching her connect with Jason. And I loved that Jason was also learning how to live through his own problems. Jason didn’t fix Grace. But, he understood her. And that was fantastic.
Really, I wish I had some kind of heads up about the feels that came. I wish I could have prepped myself for the level of fluff this provided. However, I loved seeing Korea through Grace’s eyes. I want to go there so bad! Also, I loved the romance. I found the music and drama in the background to be a little addictive, as they should be. I give it an 8/10.

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