My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I appear to be in the minority on this one.
Thank you, Netgalley and St. Martin's Press, for this free book to review!
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.Most people get offended by this book. Grace didn't go to Korea because it's, you know, Korea (which is way cool! Love Korean books!), she went because that's what came up first when she googled Intentional Boarding Schools. She never learns how to speak their language besides "Hello" (which is like five words long), and she clearly is used to American food. And yet, the only thing above that bugged me was the language part, because I love foreign languages. But you know what? Not everyone does. Grace didn't go for the experience, she went because she wanted to leave her home. Of course she's not going to have a perfect attitude about everything.
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.
Frankly, I love the way the Korean culture was presented. If it's as inaccurate as some people say, than I feel slightly jilted, but if it is real? Than I totally want to go there. As with every book set in a foreign country though, I could never tell any of the cities apart. They're all big, they're all loud, and they all have insane traffic.
I really like Grace. She's super flawed--she looked down on Kpop and basically every music she's not used to, manages to forget when American Thanksgiving is, and adjusts perfectly to a school IN KOREA, which you would think is significantly more difficult than American schools. But she has spunk, goshdarnit, and she will make her way in the world after her family's tumult and no one can stop her.
Jason confused me just as much as he confused Grace though. Does he like her? Does he hate her? Why couldn't she tell Yoon Jae, a total sweetheart, definitely likes her? It kind of bugged me how Grace would want to date him and do date-ish things with him (like kiss), but when he attempted to make it official, she rebuffed him. I get that her past was traumatic and she's still recovering, but it was still annoying.
And yet...I still love this book. Everything is so vibrant and full of life, so how can I not? I will definitely read more by Katie M. Stout in the future.
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Sexual Content: A
Notes: underage drinking by other characters, not Grace.