Author: Alice Lin
Publication date: June 7th, 2022
Seventeen-year-old Lulu Li has her last summer before college all planned out. But her plans go awry when she learns that Kite Xu, her old next-door neighbor and childhood friend, will be returning home from South Korea.
Lulu hasn’t seen Kite since eighth grade, after he left the country to pursue a career in K-pop, eventually debuting in the boy group Karnival. When Karnival announces that Kite will be taking a break from K-pop activities for mysterious reasons, the opportunity to rekindle their friendship arises.
Star-struck and nostalgic, Lulu tries to reconnect with Kite. As they continue to bond and reminisce over the past, Kite’s sister, Connie, warns Lulu not to get too close to her brother. The harder Lulu tries to deny her feelings, the stronger they get. But how could a K-pop star ever fall for a nobody from home? And even if he did, is there any way for their relationship to end but badly?
I really thought I would love this book more than I did – so many tropes that I’m drawn to in one YA novel, it seemed like a recipe for success. But I left the book feeling dissatisfied and couldn’t identify exactly why. Tropes include famous person/normal person and childhood friends to lovers. It’s more of a long lost childhood friends as the MMC went to Korea to become a Kpop star and has recently returned to his childhood home – next door to our FMC.
I think the major issue I took with this book was that I didn’t buy the romance. It was very understated and there wasn’t any background given to provide evidence that the two characters held a torch for each other for years. There was also none of the tension that I normally associate with YA contemporary romances and look for.
Some positives were the Kpop and Korean representation, the struggle the FMC had with her bio father and his new family, the mental health concerns our MMC dealt with, and the LGBTQ representation.
Thank you to Underlined and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.
Happy reading, folks!