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.
Oh dear. I was really, really excited for this one. I went through a KPOP phase of my own several years back, and it’s always exciting for me to see Asian culture in Western media. Everything is just so… different! Of course, Eden turned out to be way more KRock than KPOP. Instruments? I signed up for boy bands!!
Here’s the thing though: those cultural differences were vilified, rather than celebrated, for the majority of this novel. Yes, we got to see Grace grow tolerant (and even accepting) over a LOOONG time. She didn’t even bother trying to learn how to speak Korean or write in Hangul. And she lived in Korea for a year. But it left a sour taste in my mouth how ungrateful, spoiled, and bratty she acted. I don’t know why people continually cared about her, gave her chances, and felt smitten with her. Self-fulfilled, happy people should be the most attractive ones… but this story imparts a different lesson (that it’s attractive to be “hard to get,” moody, and totally “hot ‘n’ cold”).
This book was immensely angsty. I hate reading an entire book of tension, where the protagonist constantly pushes away the things that bring the most happiness.
The brother situation somehow surprised me. It was a curveball in the story that I didn’t expect, but it didn’t excuse Grace for her behaviour. In Asian culture specifically, it’s huge to respect and give back to the people who raised you. I personally felt that her behaviour towards her parents was inexcusable. She didn’t do anything to deserve her trust fund or any money that could make her “financially independent.” Even her opportunities were available because of who she was… and yet she never showed any appreciation for the life she was given. Furthermore, she was so irresponsible. Those moments where she was scrambling to find an internship or get into a university (LAST MINUTE) should’ve given her a sharp dose of reality. Instead, things magically worked out for her. Yay.
I’ll give this book kudos for trying to capture Korean culture though. At least it tried.
- The Sound of Us – Ashley Poston
- The Rockstar’s Daughter – Caitlyn Duffy
- When You Were Here – Daisy Whitney
- Firecracker – David Iserson