Title: Hello I Love You
Katie M. Stout
Length: 304 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Rating: 3 Stars
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. -Goodreads
HELLO, I LOVE YOUBy Katie M. StoutBlog Tour ExcerptI sneak a sideways glance at him, but he’s just staring out the window, shoulders rigid and jaw clenched. Sophie and the other two boys carry on a conversation in front of us, leaving Jason isolated. Because he thinks no one’s looking, he’s let down his guard, and in the pale light of the streetlamps we pass, I make out melancholy etched deep in his expression. And I’m reminded of my brother.Again, I remember that there’s something deeper here, something he doesn’t want anyone to see. I suppress the jolt of dread that rockets through me, fear that he has some dark secret like Nathan. I don’t know Jason well enough to leap to such conclusions. But I can surmise that his isolating himself and keeping his feelings away from everyone else isn’t helping.Shoving the memory of him snapping at me earlier to the back of my mind, I pull out one of the earbuds and reach across the darkness between us, offering it to him. He stares at it a second, then takes it from my fingers and places it in his ear. The cord pulls taut between our heads, and he has to scoot closer, our shoulders brushing. I smile and close my eyes, leaning my head back against the seat and getting lost in the relaxed melodies and soft, plucking guitar of Bon Iver.Drowsiness settles on me as the subtle rocking of the van and the long day breaks down any fight in me to stay conscious. As I hover between sleep and wakefulness, I feel a soft touch on my fingers that rest on the seat between me and Jason.“Grace?” Jason whispers.But I don’t answer, eyes heavy and lips parted in half sleep. Another brush against my hand. A solid, warm pressure. My brain jolts awake when Jason threads his fingers through mine. Iswallow hard, and my breathing accelerates.I risk a quick peek at Jason, my eyes squinted so I can shut them again at a moment’s notice. He peers out his window still, but instead of tension making the lines of his body sharp, he angles himself toward me, muscles relaxed. A soft smile plays at the edges of his lips, and his fingers twitch against mine, our palms pressed together.Does he think I’m asleep? Should I tell him I’m awake? My mind races through possible motivations for him grabbing my hand, followed by what might happen if I revealed my not being asleep. He would probably say something mean, and we wouldn’t talk for the rest of the trip. So I just keep my mouth shut and let him hold my hand.And enjoy it entirely too much.
I was over the moon when I first found out that this book was up for review. As a person with a deep respect for Korean culture, and a lover of KPOP; the idea of this book both intrigued and and frightened me.
After having read this book, I can say that both of those first feelings were spot on.
There is so much about her to love...if only! If only she wasn't a jerk. If only she didn't walk around with her privileged, Southern Belle, "I KNOW SO MUCH MORE THAN YOU" attitude. If only she dealt with her problems instead of making them an obstacle course for Jason.
If only she had done her research on the culture, people, and country that she spent so much of her time belittling.
If you have the money and the freedom to take up residence in another country on a whim, you should at least know where you are going.
A Little Help From My Friends
This book is saved character-wise by Grace's roomate Sophie and Jason's band-mates. They provided a lightness and fun that this read is sorely in need of.
The fact that Sophie lived in America for so much if her life gives her the ability to be a of sorts for Grace, and helps to round out some of Grace's rougher edges.
At times it feels as if Jason is undertaking "The Quest For The Golden Fleece" in his effort to get closer to Grace. I know that her emotional baggage is intended to provide the emotional challenge or hurtle to this relationship, but there is so much that Jason has to seemingly atone for with Grace, that in the end, it just seems like one more brick for the pile.
What's To Like?
There is a great deal to like about this book. The writing is excellent, the supporting characters are great, and the 'culture shock' aspect of Grace's experience are spot on. There is even a bit of the romance that readers are promised...eventually.
The Devil In The Details
This book is definitely a testament to the good and bad of that statement. If Grace is a child of the music industry, she should have a basic understanding of the predominate music of the culture in which she is going to live. Especially if she is going to go around making pronouncements about her knowledge of "the industry". Red isn't red everywhere.
I really don't want to seem as though I am taking pot shots at Grace, but she is written as the biggest target in the book.
With all the care that authoress Stout takes when describing details of Korean life, she seems to have left Grace clueless in the areas of grace, decorum, and respect.