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.
[note note_color=”#BFD1D1″ text_color=”#ffffff”]I received this book for free from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.[/note]
First sentence: “Big Brother, I want you to know something: It wasn’t your fault, not any of it. “
Ever wonder what happens when you decide to run off to go to boarding school in South Korea? Yes? (If you’re thinking, “why would she go to boarding school there?” me too, folks. Me too.)
Hello, I Love You is about what happens when an American teenager, Grace Wilde, runs off to South Korea to escape the pressure of being part of a well-known family in the music industry and the tragedy that had befell on her family. She attempts to adjust to her new life at a boarding school in Korea, and along the way, she encounters her roommate’s twin brother, Jason, who’s an arrogant but insecure Korean pop star and who she constantly clashes with. And of course, love blossoms in the air, and soon the issues of their past come to the surface, forcing them to face it head on.
THINGS I WOULD TELL GRACE WILDE IN HELLO, I LOVE YOU
Open your mind more, and embrace this new country you’re in.
Oh my god, do you know how baffling it was to read about how ignorant Grace is of Korea and the culture? I know it’s expected, but why didn’t this girl research the country she decided to run off to? Grace is incredibly close-minded and judgmental; she doesn’t have a very high expectation of South Korea. (For instance, she thought Korea had only traditional music—not pop or hip hop—and didn’t think Koreans could speak flawless English. So cringeworthy.) She’s dismissive of Korea even though she picked the country to go to! You’re in a pretty advanced country, Grace!
Her cultural unawareness was a painful, yet accurate portrayal of a person who doesn’t understand a culture they’re unfamiliar with. I just wanted to thrust things to expose her to the awesome of the culture like watch Korean dramas or eat all the foods.
- Tone down that entitled brattiness and snobbiness, especially when it comes to music.
You’ve heard about culturally ignorant Grace, and you’ll hear about bratty and snobby Grace now. Her attitude is horrible. Coming from a well-off family who’s in the music business must’ve influenced Grace quite a bit because she acts like a big snob, especially towards music. It’s quite unbearable. She puts down Korean music and various other things, almost like they are inferior to whatever she knows and likes. She’d make comments to “help,” but her suggestions have such an entitled air to it that it’s just makes you roll your eyes.
Often times, she’ll be impressed by something these Korean characters do (like having a great guitar or a Korean drama she had initially put down), and she’ll think to herself, “I’ll give them that” as if she’s handing out points for having good taste. Take that snobbiness somewhere else, Grace.
- Don’t be so petty when Jason ignores you.
That horrible song by Katy Perry, “Hot N Cold,” perfectly describes Grace and Jason’s budding relationship.
These characters go through so many ups and downs of liking and not liking each other that it was just painful for me to read. Grace gets incredibly petty when Jason ignores her, even though it’s because he doesn’t know her or he’s working, and sometimes she’d do things like, and I quote, “shoot daggers at the back of his head with [her] eyes, hoping he feels all the hateful thoughts I have for him.” What are we? Twelve? She sounds so ridiculous, and makes me sideeye her for acting like she’s been wronged just because she was ignored. Their romance was a roller coaster I wanted to jump out of because I was not a fan.
- Stick your nose out of people’s business.
Add nosiness to Grace’s bad traits.
Grace has a bad habit of butting into situations she has no business being in. For someone who doesn’t want to divulge her past and secret, she’s so interested in knowing other people’s secrets. She barely knows Jason (and is intent on hating him for ignoring her), yet she demands—not cautiously ask like any normal person would’ve done—that he tell her what’s the deal with him and Sophie, his sister/Grace’s roommate. She acts like she’s entitled to know about their business when they don’t owe her anything, especially since it’s a family matter. I bet Grace wouldn’t like someone sticking their nose in her business too.
- Stop thinking about Jason all the time; spend time with Sophie and the others.
Where are the friends that Grace makes?
I wanted to see more of Sophie and her relationship with her brother. I wanted to know more about Tae Hwa and Yoon Jae, who are Jason’s bandmates. I thought the relationships between all of them would be a better read than reading about all of Grace’s bad traits. These Korean characters really do disappear once the romance between Grace and Jason moves forward, which is a damn shame.
Hello, I Love You had potential to tell a beautiful story about Korea and its people, but unfortunately, it didn’t give me (and many other readers) what I had expected. I thought I would be immersed in the Korean culture—the food, the people, the music, and so on—but for a book that’s set in Korea, “it reads like another white teen drama,” as said by Kayla. I do not disagree one bit with that statement. At times, it felt like it was set in Korea as an attempt to be diverse, and it just didn’t work. I never felt like we stepped out of the Western bubble to truly embrace the rich Korean culture.
Should you read this book? Perhaps, Grace may be an unlikeable and unbearable character (who actually never grows beyond her bad traits), but there are tons of people like her which I feel like readers can relate to. However, you should be aware of the problems in the book that Rose does a beautiful job of addressing in her review, which is better than I could ever write.