Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout

Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout

Release Date: June 9, 2015
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Rated: YA 14+
Format: ARC
Source: Pansing
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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.

To be honest, I don’t have all that much experience with KPOP or K-Dramas. Only the handful of Wonder Girls songs and a few others my roommates had shown me. I will say though: KPOP songs are definitely catchy as hell. When I first read about Hello, I Love You there were two very distinct thoughts in my head:

1) Hello, I love you won’t you tell me your name – the song by The Doors was on a constant loop in my head every time I saw the cover.
2) A book that ISN’T set in the US or the UK? HELLS YEAH.

I only heard about this when I got the chance to review it, and noticing the cute cover and the awesome synopsis I could only say yes. But of course, with every book set in Asia, I’m a little guarded. For those who don’t know, I’ve spent most of my life living in Asia: India, Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore. While obviously I’m no expert, I HATE Asian stereotypes and the assumptions a lot of Westerners make about me when I say I’m from Singapore. I mean, it’s like “I’ve attended international schools my whole life, I only speak English and my accent is an American-British (more American) mix. How are you surprised 5 minutes into this conversation that I can speak English perfectly and have no accent?” Anyway, so that’s pretty much why when it comes to American authors writing about Asia, unless they’ve lived in this part of the world or studied it VERY thoroughly, my shields are up. I was totally right to. This book was a pretty big let-down. The only good part about it was the setting, which was absolutely gorgeous and having never been to South Korea, I want to go...like, NOW.

Right off the bat, I was dismayed with how Grace ended up there. Okay, so she typed “international boarding schools” into a search engine and didn’t even bother needing to know ANYTHING about South Korea, and constantly complains about everything different. If you have difficulty with the language, you should have really picked a country in Asia where a lot of the people can speak English–there’s loads! Obviously Singapore is one, then there’s Malaysia, the Philippines... need I go on? I just got a little bit frustrated every time Grace claimed something was “dumb” (a frequent label that she used) or weird when it was different from what she was used to. It was definitely frustrating. Because of this, as well as a few other reasons, I was on a constant roller coaster when it came to how I thought about Grace. I felt really bad about what happened to her and totally understood why she needed to move far away, even though I question her lack of research. On the other hand, her snappy attitude and ever-changing moodiness got irritating really fast. I can honestly say this: I liked this book but hated its main character and her need to point out everything wrong with a culture that is not her own. Definitely some Western elitism going on in this book...

The other characters, however, I LOVED. Sophie was super adorable. I enjoyed her bubbly nature and she truly was a delightful presence in this book. Jason, while closed off at first, was a total swoon-worthy heartthrob. I’m so glad that there’s a POC love interest who somewhat defies the stereotypes of male KPOP artists in Hello, I Love You. I enjoyed a few of the other minor characters–Yoon Jae and Jane–as well. I just wish some characters had more involvement in the book, Tae Hwa for example, because with the continuous on-and-off does-he-like-me and I’m-his-friend?-lol-jk-I’m-not-or-wait-am-I drama going on with Grace and Jason, it would have been nice to see the Sophie and Tae Hwa’s budding romance.

I didn’t like this book because of my issues with the main character, but I would recommend Hello, I Love You for the setting and the rest of the characters. I just wish more culture had been showcased instead of the ceaseless Americanisation that Grace pushes onto her friends and her experiences in Korea.

▪ ▪ ▪ Thank you so much to Sasha at Pansing for sending me a copy for review! ▪ ▪ 

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  1. Sadly this one hasn't been getting much love lately and for pretty much the same reasons that you've found issues with too Rabiah. I'm all for diversity, but REAL diversity. I want to read about characters with backgrounds far different to my own. Their customs, traditions and beliefs. But sticking an American girl in a foreign country only to Americanize them, yeah, not so much. So sorry you couldn't have enjoyed this more Rabiah, but hopefully your next read knocks your socks off! Wonderful review <3

  2. yeah I wasn't a huge fan of this one either. Grace just pissed me off SO FREAKING MUCH. She is just such a judgemental character and I cannot see how she developed at all throughout the book.

    Great review! <33

  3. I am still on the fence about this one, I am glad that some of the characters are good, but it is sad you don't like the MC
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

  4. It's hard to get into a book when you don't really like the main character, or at least that's how it is for me. It's nice to know that the other characters are good though. Great review!

  5. I'm Filipino so I totally feel your indignation towards Asian stereotypes. I already dislike the "heroine". She's dumb! lol

  6. I didn't know you've lived in the Philippines, dear! That's an awesome tidbit to know. Are you visiting again anytime soon?

    And yes, I've read how this one was such insulting not only to the Korean culture but to any culture in general, due to the heroine's indifference and her being judgemental. I don't think I even want to start this one because I'd be too busy being pissed off!

    Faye at The Social Potato

  7. I've never spent an extended period of time in Asia so inaccuracies concerning culture probably wouldn't bother me just because I wouldn't be aware of them, but an annoying main character is something else. Moving to South Korea on a whim seems so unrealistic and it sounds like I would have a hard time relating to Grace. But I'm happy to hear that all the other characters are great! Awesome review :D

    Zareena @ The Slanted Bookshelf


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