If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, when I picked up I Believe in a Thing Called Love, you knew I absolutely loved it. I read it quickly, which just means I absolutely loved it. When I heard about Maurene’s Goo book, I instantly added it to my TBR. I mean, could you really go wrong with a Korean character who created her own K-drama formula in order to get a guy to like her? The answer might surprise you.
Title: I Believe in a Thing Called Love
Author: Maurene Goo
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (Macmillan)
Expected release date: May 30, 2017
Length: 336 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Young adult, contemporary, romance
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) “Desi Lee knows how carburetors work. She learned CPR at the age of five. As a high school senior, she has never missed a day of school and has never had a B in her entire life. She’s for sure going to Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation-magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds her answer in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Rules for True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and fake car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.”
I grew up with the faint sounds of Korean as my soundtrack. There were times I didn’t like it, especially when my mom belted the loud, vocally traditional Korean songs she grew up listening to. There were times when I’d sit with her in the coach and try to follow along as she watched her K-dramas (to this day, I distinctly remembering her watching one about ghosts, and it wasn’t the fun one either. Pretty sure it still haunts me to this day).
When I showed my mother you could watch K-dramas online (!), I would come over and find her sitting in front of computer, snack in hand, watching. She then progressed to getting satellite so she didn’t have to wait for a particular website to get it. Anyway, needless to say, she loves her K-dramas and occasionally, we’ll watch them together (as long as they’re subtitled for me!).
All that to say, I Believe in a Thing Called Love was absolutely perfect. It also made me realize I need to up my K-drama game! lol I’ve only watched a handful of dramas mentioned in this book, though I recognized far more. I found it so cute how determined the main character, Desi Lee, was. She’s good at just about everything but when it comes to romance, she’s a definite “flailure” (flirting failure) according to her friend, Wes. She doesn’t want to graduate high school without ever having a boyfriend (sadly, that was me, too 😛 ). So what does she do? She takes advice from the beloved K-dramas her father has watched for years and develops a set of rules from what appears to be a common thread in all the dramas she’s watched. Then she applies it to her life and her determination to snag the new guy Luca as her boyfriend.
Goo’s writing style is simple and works perfectly for her characters. I found myself embarrassed for Desi (and trust me, there are some embarrassing moments) but also laughing uncontrollably at her crazy ideas! Desi has a strong will, and even when things don’t technically go according to plan, she manages to bring it all around to fit into her plan. Well, almost.
I loved the parent/child relationship in this book, and it’s quite refreshing to read in YA literature because sometimes parents are incredibly aloof and distant about their children. But Desi gets along well with her father and vice versa. He isn’t overbearing–he lets her be herself, but he doesn’t let us forget that he is the parent. Goo also threw in the whole “your mother and I had to sacrifice some things when we came to America” and I was like, “Noooooo. Why do you have to make me sad?”
Desi’s inner monologue is completely me. Wow, I’m not even sure I’ve come across with a contemporary YA book with a character that read like me in their head! The way she gives herself pep talks when she’s with Luca. Her nerdiness wasn’t in the traditional Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Star Trek sort of nerdiness. I found it endearing how Luca thought that part of Desi was adorable.
Also, Desi has a rad group of friends, Wes and Fiona! They aren’t afraid to call her on her crap, especially when things escalate as the story progresses. I like how a broken friendship mends, too, and even a parent/sibling relationship works out, too. (Most of these were fixed by simply communicating!) You’d think that the book would end once Desi snags the guy, but that isn’t true! There’s more to explore, love, and dive deeper into it. This doesn’t skim the surface. It shows up some of the nitty gritty.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. I read it so quickly, and I couldn’t stop giggling. It was nice to read a book with a Korean character. I liked how unabashedly Korean Desi was. Growing up as a half-Korean, there were times I completely disliked it, especially when I was teased because of it. I’m so pleased I was able to get an ARC at the North Texas Teen Book Festival, meet the author, and get the ARC signed! I’ll definitely purchase a finish copy when it releases on May 30!