Book Review: Hello, I Love You by Katie Stout

Hello, I Love You

Grace is the daughter of one of the biggest American producers and sister of a popular country star. So you could say music is everywhere for her. But when her brother has a breakdown and she feels her mother blames her, she pushes the drawer of her high-style Nashville life closed and enrolls in a boarding school… in Korea. Luckily her roommates Sophie grew up in New York but still speaks Korean, and Grace struggles to keep up with Sophie, her twin brother Jason and their friends by adjusting to the Korean culture.

Ironically, Jason and his friends are Korean pop stars, causing Grace to fall into the music business that she tried desperately to leave. At first, Grace and Jason form a friendship to appease Sophie, but she begins to realize that he isn’t as aloof and egotistical as he first appeared. She finds herself torn between falling for him and getting back into the music industry or staying as far away from unstable musicians and the industry that ruined her family.

Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that when I read the back of this book, my eyebrows shot up and my face twisted into a grimace. But I had to promote it for book club because Katie Stout will be visiting for a talk at our next meeting, so I put on a bright smile and sold the book as best I could.

I mean… Korea? KPOP? Complicated teenage love? It didn’t really seem up my alley.

Then I started reading.

And I actually loved it.

First of all, it was extremely interesting to read about Grace’s assimilation into Korean culture. I learned things about their culture and music which added an informative twist to a light young adult read.

Also, I think Grace showed to be a very layered character, and so did Jason and Sophie. She puts on a brave face for her family when she’s actually terrified of going to a foreign country; she hides her family from her friends; she struggles with the lure and dismay of music; she has moments of insane doubt or confidence. Jason also had intense moods and different faces for different people, which is more realistic. I loved peeling away the layers of the characters as bad or good things cropped up in their lives.

The teen romance? Well, yeah. It’s a teen romance. There’s a love triangle. But there is a twist. While the whole you’re-a-bad-boy-but-I’m-strangely-attracted-to-you complex isn’t really new, the internal conflicts that Grace and Jason face with dating one another make the romance a dynamic subplot to follow. Grace doesn’t want to let anyone in and fears musicians as a whole, and, even though it’s pretty obvious the results from the synopsis, I enjoyed following her ups and downs.

And there were moments where I found myself completely exasperated with the couple, but doesn’t that happen in real life too?

I have only one minor critique about the character developments. They all made retrospective comments on Grace’s hesitancy to accept Korean culture, but to me, it didn’t seem like she had that hard of a time or was that opposed to conforming to it. Maybe that was just my perspective, but I think her reluctance to accept the culture could have been made more clear in the beginning if they referred back to it multiple times. Otherwise, I thought the Korean aspect added a spark to a typical contemporary novel.

Grace’s family and relationship problems follow her throughout the novel, and I adored that not every was wrapped up in a neat little bow at the end because that is how life works. Also, (no spoilers!) I predicted the twist at the end, but that’s okay because it still made me sympathize with Grace more.

So, yes. Read it. Read it as a cultural twist to a contemporary romance. Read it because you need a cute and complicated teen love affair in your life. Read it because it deserves more recognition!

4 Stars

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Top Ten Books on My Fall TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is all the books on our to-read lists. I actually don’t have a lot of timely books this season.

  1. Winger by Andrew Smith (I want to reread this for the sequel) Winger (Winger, #1)
  2. Stand-Off by Andrew SmithStand-Off (Winger, #2)
  3. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
    The 5th Wave (The 5th Wave, #1)
  4. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston Their Eyes Were Watching God
  5. More Happy than Not by Adam SilveraMore Happy Than Not
  6. The Diviners by Libba Bray diviners
  7. Wicked by Gregory MaguireWicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wicked Years, #1)
  8. Hello, I Love You by Katie StoutHello, I Love You
  9. Falling into Place by Amy Zhang Falling into Place
  10. Red Queen by Victoria AveyardRed Queen (Red Queen, #1)

Top Ten Characters I didn’t Click with

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic focuses on the characters we don’t click with.

  1. Earl (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl) — I know Earl’s supposed to have that whole not-likable-but-lovable vibe going on, but I don’t see it. I get that’s he’s actually a sweet guy deep down, but I feel like he’s too much of a jerk on the surface for me to like him. But all the characters in this book are like that. Not likable, but lovable.
  2. Amir (Kite Runner) — Okay, let’s face it. Nobody likes Amir. He’s cowardly and disgustingly selfish, and I didn’t think his redemption at the end of the book completely made up for all the stuff he did to Hassan.
  3. Katniss (Hunger Games) — I didn’t like how by Mockingjay she couldn’t hold herself together, and she focused too much on Gale-Peeta-Gale-Peeta instead of the actual revolution.
  4. Bernard Marx (Brave New World) — Bernard could not make up his mind about whether he wanted to fight the system or feed into it, and I was super frustrated throughout the entire book because I couldn’t tell what his master plan was.
  5. Mim Malone (Mosquitoland) — I don’t have a completely concrete reason for disliking Mim,
  6. Travis Coates (Noggin) — I absolutely hated Travis because I felt like he focused on trivial things instead of being like, oh, hey, maybe I should figure out this whole thing with my new body and revived brain.
  7. Naomi (Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List) — Oh my gosh, Naomi is so annoying. She and Ely fought over the stupidest things, and she’s too overly possessive and concerned with herself. I cannot stand Naomi. It was a good book, but Naomi was awful and petty.
  8. Max (The Alex Crow) — I don’t know. I didn’t hate Max, but I just felt like we weren’t the best of friends while I read it. He was just mildly annoying to me.
  9. Anthony Patch (The Beautiful and the Damned) — Anthony was disloyal to his wife Gloria, too concerned with alcohol, and too lazy to get a job. Yet he was completely rich and got everything he wanted and was upset when things didn’t work out.
  10. Sloane (Since You’ve Been Gone) — I have a love/ hate relationship with characters like this. I adore the idea of Sloane, her mystery, her style, her wistfulness. But I hate her carelessness and callous nature and disregard for others’ feelings.