I received this book for free from Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on June 9th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
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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.
A sweet, feel-good kind of read, Hello, I Love You transported me to Korea with its highly descriptive and atmospheric writing.
I had a good time reading this novel, the romance is cute and full of chemistry, buuuut (you knew it was coming) the hot and cold nature of their relationship for a good 90% of the book does get frustrating. Even though Grace ends up having a reason behind her inability to trust and open up her heart, I couldn’t help but find myself annoyed at her sudden bursts of coldness. She was so blind by what transpired in her past – which we only find out about at the very end – that she becomes this cold-hearted bitch every time they actually start to get close. She should have given him credit just to stick around after these mood-swings, but no, he drank once or twice so he’s bound to become just like her brother… So yeah, the romance and I had a love-hate relationship. When they were happy and finally getting along I loved it – their chemistry is undeniable and he is simply adorable, if a bit broken – but then she would turn around in the blink of an eye and ruin it all!
While I didn’t dislike Grace per se, I absolutely loved the secondary characters. Her roommate Sophie is a blast – energetic, funny, and a wonderful friend. Jason’s bandmates are also full of charisma and personality. I even loved her sister, Jane, even though she barely makes an appearance in the book. It’s obvious the author knows how to build a cast full of memorable characters who all add a little something extra to the novel. There’s also an emotional layer that surfaces towards the end. It’s something I did not expect and comes with quite the tear-jerker of a baggage. It also explains Grace’s state of mind (better late than never, but still late enough that annoyance towards her is to be expected).
Now, Korea; I have never been, nor am I a listener of KPOP, so I can’t vouch for how accurately it may or may not depict it all, but I found myself charmed by the boarding school, the cities, the streets, the culture, the crowds – I became enchanted by it all. Especially when you add in the dazzle of music and fame. I love when an author is able to transport me to a new country and make me feel as if I was the one walking the streets, experiencing the culture. Accurate or not, the setting is believable and well-utilized throughout.
A foreign country, a slow-burning romance, a plot that includes friendship, family, and a dash of secrecy – Hello, I Love You is an easily enjoyable story. I would recommend it to fans of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and Anna and the French Kiss.
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