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A bit cute and adequate read, Hello, I Love You is a debut novel about a teen escaping from her family, transfers to a boarding school in Korea and falls for a Korean idol.
Grace Wilde grew up in a music world with her father being a known record producer and a famous country-artist brother. To escape her family issues, she traveled the other side of the world and enrolled herself in Korea's School of Foreign Studies. As luck would have it, she had her roommate Sophie, who takes her, and introduced her to her twin brother Jason, the lead singer of a widely known Korean band. Hearts starts to form in the eyes of Grace and Jason, even with their uncomfortable relationship.
Katie M. Stout's characterization of Korea is horrifically insensitive. The main character thinks Korean people smell awful like garlic. She's also queasy by Korean food and dreaded by squat toilets. This is such a shame for an author who loves K-Pop but distinguishes Korea and it's culture badly.
I could not tell this is an 'Anna and the French Kiss goes to Korea': it is different than that beautifully written book. Stout is not Perkins and Perkins will never be Stout but Stout could be Perkins. Just not today. It's just unfortunate that a novel set in Korea with heaps of characters is distorted because it's mainly about its protagonist's trip of self-discovery.
Readers would really love to understand characters but Hello, I Love You failed on that. Grace and Jason's relationship are like kiss-and-tell-then-what? I just don't get their drama. I know they're having both family matters but can they just do something that would not make it worse and move on? Also, Grace is a high school senior here. I expected her to grow up and to do something that could inspire especially readers ages 13 to 18. Instead, she just became what she's been afraid of. I don't think everyone saw that. Her self-discovery in Korea is pointless.
You don't have to be a K-POP fan to like this book. You just have to read it and sweep over. In spite of the unfortunate negatives Hello, I Love You has, you will still enjoy moments with the main character. Even she's the type of girl that is frightened on speaking up her mind.
Slow-burn romance, Korea, plainspoken friendship, awkward family - Hello, I Love You is a better-than-nothing contemporary read.