Thursday, June 11, 2015

Hello, I Love You ~ Katie M. Stout (earc) review [@katiemstout @GriffinTeen

Hello, I Love You
St Martin's Griffin
June 9, 2015
304 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

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.

I liked that Hello, I Love You was more complex than I was expecting (I blame some of that expectation on the cover).

Grace, the girl who doesn't have an ear for languages and who only has two years of high school Spanish, finds herself at a boarding school on Ganghwa Island, South Korea. She knows it won't be easy in a country where she doesn't speak the language (though the school teaches in English) but she hopes that, fourteen time zones away from home, she can escape.

Grace's introduction to Korea, the school, her roommate Sophie and Sophie's friends, and classes was well done. I actually liked that Grace wasn't in Korea because of some long-held love of the country, a desire to experience Asia or really anything else. She was there by chance, thanks really only to Google. There were things she wasn't crazy about, more things she was reticent to try and she missed America.

It may not have been the perfect transition to a new culture and country but it felt real, at he same time. I loved her exploration of the country, where they went and what they saw. I now have South Korea firmly on my list of places to visit.

Why exactly Grace was so ready to leave her home and family behind is hinted at but not outright revealed for some time. With Grace keeping those parts of herself secret from everyone around her - trying for that fresh start - it made perfect sense not to have it discussed. It is something you mostly deduce as the story progresses but not having it stated works nicely.

I loved Grace and Jason (and Sophie) even when they didn't love each other. Sometimes main characters who you know are the novel's love interests, who can't stand each other gets old. Here, though, it worked nicely. How Grace feels about Jason makes sense with what she's dealing with and his behavior. The slow development of a relationship between them, the ups and downs and setbacks was right.

(I love the cover, but I kind of wish they had different outfits on . . . or at least that Jason's shoes were different so it would fit more with the story.)

Other Books You Might Also Enjoy: The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre and Last Year's Mistake by Gina Ciocca

thanks to the publisher for my review copy via NetGalley

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