Genres: Adolescence, Contemporary, Diverse, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Fiction, Humor, Love & Romance, Realistic Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
Published by Straus and Giroux (BYR) on May 30th, 2017
Amazon, Barnes & Noble , The Book Depository
Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into 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 guidance 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 Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged 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’m a sucker for romance. It’s my go-to genre in music, books, and film when I’m happy, sad, angry, frustrated, nostalgic, etc. The past few months, particularly from late March until the first week of June, the political situation where I live and study has been tense. During this time, especially the last few weeks, I ate up contemporary romance books even more than normal, and this one was simply one of the best this year.
One of the first things that called to me about this story was the main character, Desi Lee. Goal-driven, overachiever, methodical, organized, responsible, and many other things, she’s your typical Type-A person. She aims high to get into Stanford, and with the same methods she gets other things she wants, she devises a plan to get over her romantic disasters and get herself the boy she’s starting to like at school. From page one till the end I saw myself in Desi. I can be spontaneous and messy sometimes, but there are things that have to be done with a pattern and method, in a perfect and unbreakable way so that you get the desired results. It was hilarious to see her strategies in order to get closer to Luca, the love interest, and other times maybe even a bit creepy or crazy. But in all honesty, I understood her perfectly because we’ve all been there. We like someone, we don’t want to mess it up, so we try to make it work as best we can. The problem is when you come close to putting your own life, or someone else’s, at risk. Which actually happened in a very K-Drama way that was funny and concerning. However, the book came to full circle by addressing these behaviors when they bordered on dangerous and it was great to see the character’s development.
Another great thing about Desi was her relationship with her dad. They had great family dynamics as the story made her father be an active character and not just a two-dimensional character that is mentioned every once in a while when convenient. They reminded me of my own relationship with my dad, and it was also a great wink at typical K-Dramas where the heroine has that bond with her Appa.
I have not seen as many K-Dramas (or doramas) as I would like, though I squealed when the book mentioned one of my favorites, Boys Over Flowers. However, my mom has seen far too many for the both of us (kind of like Desi’s dad). Thanks to this I was able to recognize many of the elements of your typical drama in terms of Korean culture, references to Desi’s K-Drama steps, as well as the book’s own plot. But even if you have never watched them, the author made an excellent job in explaining how they, how Desi is going to use them, and there is even a list of the ones mentioned throughout the story by the end of the book if you’re interested in watching them!
Desi’s parents are Korean, but she was born in America. Through her we are able to understand in a simple and endearing way how she embraces this culture as well as her Korean heritage in her own way, even admits how she struggles with the language and other cultural aspects. I love books that feature diversity, but sometimes they can get too political for my liking if it doesn’t fit with the plot. Maurene Goo weaves a story of romance and comedy with Korean and American culture, keeping these elements simple to let you appreciate them. She only went into deeper territory like immigration and cultural clashes when it fit into the character’s developments and struggles that made this book as a whole stand out more.
There were times when I just had to squeal, let out giggles or big laughs, close the book, breath, and question Desi’s sanity. It was perfect. At times also frustrating, but everything you would expect in a rom-com set in high school. The romance was cute, slow-building, and was actually not something I thought would happen. Desi’s K-Drama steps were a bit extreme sometimes that you just read on thinking this was when it was all going to fall down. Luca was adorable and I loved the parts when he and Art were involved (art lover here).
I had my problems towards the end with how some things were managed with Desi’s and Luca’s relationship. While it was understandable, it still felt too dramatic (maybe it’s a high school/K-Drama thing). However, after getting past that bump in the road, most of the problems within the book get solved thoroughly in typical romance fashion with a strong message about pursuing your dreams against all odds, but also on how we can’t always control everything and that we have to learn to live with that.
As one of my highly anticipated reads for 2017, I am deeply satisfied to say that it was everything I hoped it would be and more. It is definitely the type of uplifting book you need in your life and perfect to add to your summer reading list. Cute, insightful, hilarious, and relateable, I was left wanting to read more romances after this, especially by Maurene Goo. Hurry and go check this on out!
Rating: 4 stars
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