Published by St. Martin's Press on 6/9/15
Genres: Asia, Contemporary, Drugs Alcohol Substance Abuse, Family, Romance, Young Adult
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing, Some use of alcohol and mention of use of drugs - but not by main characters)
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.
Hello, I Love You is a YA romance set in Korea that gives us a little peek into KPOP and the world of a Korean superstar. It was cute and fun, but the story also delved a little deeper than a simple fluffy romance because of Grace’s and Jason’s family issues. Ultimately, Hello, I Love You is a story about letting go of past pain and being brave enough to embrace the future.
What I loved:
- Diversity! Grace is the only major character in this book that isn’t Korean and the book is set in Korea. Already, it gets much love from me! I love to see diversity in books – especially YA, where it’s lacking. I also love that the love interest is Korean, but that, in itself, isn’t presented as a major barrier to the relationship (there are a few times that Grace wonders if Jason doesn’t want to be seen with the American girl, but it’s a very minor issue). Of course, Sophie and Jason are somewhat Americanized because they grew up in America, (thus their Americanized names), but still – diversity! Plus, I loved the references to KPOP and Korean drama!
- Family issues. As I mentioned, both Jason and Grace have tough family issues that hold them back. Jason is dealing with his parents’ nasty divorce and his estrangement from his father. Grace’s family issues take more of center stage. At the very beginning of the book, we learn that Grace’s father is a famous music producer (who is a bit of a workaholic) and her brother is a country music singer. There are hints right from the start that something happened with her brother (her father calls it “the incident” – and we learn details about what that was as the book goes on. We know that, whatever it was, it was traumatic for Grace and that she’s running from it – trying to avoid dealing with her feelings of guilt and sorrow and also trying to escape her strained relationship with her mother, which only got worse after what happened with her brother. These issues drive the story and made me want to keep reading – I really wanted to know the full story was! (Even though I had some guesses and I was pretty close, I still appreciated the way the story was laid out for us!)
- Jason and Grace. At first, I wasn’t too sure about the romance between these two – especially since I didn’t particularly like either of them in the beginning – but they definitely won me over by the second half of the book and I was rooting for them!
- Secondary characters. I really loved the secondary characters in this book – especially Sophie (Grace’s best friend and Jason’s twin sister)!
- Grace’s personality. Unfortunately, Grace isn’t the most likable main character – especially in the first half of the book. She just came across as kind of smug and arrogant (especially where music was concerned). She often complained about Jason’s negative attitude, but I had trouble sympathizing with her because she was just as irritating as he was most of the time. Then there was her attitude toward the language – I get that she was in Korea to escape her problems, not because she loved the country, and that she felt like she just wasn’t good at learning languages, but she put in zero effort where the language was concerned and then complained because people spoke Korean around her and excluded her from conversations. Even after having spent a whole school year in Korea, she knew almost no Korean – how is that even possible?! By the second half of the book, she was showing an interest in seeing Korea, trying Korean foods and exploring the culture a little, so that made me feel a bit better about her, but I wish she had been more open to it all along.
While Grace’s personality bugged me a bit, I still found that I didn’t want to put this book down. There were a few times that I had to go do something else, and I was always eager to get back to reading – so I was obviously invested in the story and enjoying it! Overall, I give this book 3.5/5 stars.
***Disclosure: I received this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
About the Author
Hello, lovelies! I’m Katie, and I’m from Atlanta, Georgia.
I wrote this book called HELLO, I LOVE YOU, which is my YA debut and will be released in 2015 by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s. It’s about cute boys, sassy girls, and K-pop, and it was described by one reader as “the country, Asian, YA pop version of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE,” which sounds about right to me. I’m excited to get to share it with readers!