Happy Tuesday, part two!
Four years ago, there was a debut author named Maurene Goo that caught my attention with her book, Since You Asked.
It was one of the first times I had seen an East Asian character featured on a cover of a YA book, and I couldn't wait to read the book - which turned out to be just as great as expected.
I've gotten to know Maurene since then - she's a trusted friend and confidant - and am now delighted that all of you get to read her beautiful sophomore novel.
Expected publication: May 30th 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Format read: E-ARC via publisher:
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 a disaster in romance, and her 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.
That's absolutely true in her sophomore novel I Believe in a Thing Called Love, where Goo touches on the burgeoning popularity of K-Drama stateside, and turns it into a universal story on love, family and self-worth. Desi Lee is a perfect student, with many talents in everything but her love life. So in a moment of inspiration, she decides to create a check-list of K-Drama inspired moments to win over her true love. But unsurprisingly, things don't necessarily turn out as expected...
It's not often that I call a novel delightful, but that's absolutely how I felt about I Believe in a Thing Called Love. Because Goo, in so many words, delighted me with every page. Desi won my heart over from the first chapter, for being equally brilliant at academics and life, but also equally faulty at her love life. But Goo, with her trademark optimism and realism, doesn't make that lack of a love life into a fault. Instead, in Desi's eyes, it's something to be conquered.
But as Desi works on conquering this just out-of-reach trait, Goo is careful to remind both her protagonist and readers, that love isn't something that can be explained in a series of steps. It can be complex and unpredictable, as Desi quickly figures out when some of her steps go awry. It's a smart reminder on how complex can relationships can be, and the importance of working through those issues - rather than compartmentalizing them away, as Desi learns from her own family.
Outside of Desi's own personal journey, Goo develops a solid secondary cast with Desi's father and best friends. They each over their own growth to do, and their journeys are both rich, but also adds to Desi's own journey. Their growth is a reminder that anything worthwhile is worth fighting for, and Desi takes those lessons to heart as she pursues her own happy ending.
I Believe in a Thing Called Love is a thoughtfully crafted love letter to the relationships between fathers and daughters, the importance of being true to one's self, and a reminder that it's that true self, that will eventually win the day.
This book made my (occasionally cranky) heart sing, and also reminded me of the power that a single writer can have, when writing a story that will appeal to all. Highly recommend, full stop. This is a book that should absolutely be on your reading list.
About the author:
Maurene Goo studied communication at UC San Diego and then later received a master's in publishing, writing, and literature at Emerson College. Before publishing her first book, Since You Asked, she worked in both textbook and art book publishing. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two cats. maurenegoo.com