A funny young adult novel about a Korean-American girl who uses K-Drama techniques to snag the boyfriend of her dreams.
One of Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2017
One of Seventeen.com's Best YA Books of 2017
"Hilarious." Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Powerful messages of inclusion and acceptance." Kirkus Reviews, starred review
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 never had a B. But in her charmed school life, there's one thing missingshe’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a known disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet.
When the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides it's time to tackle her flirting failures. She finds her answer in the Korean dramas her father has watched obsessively for yearsin which the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. Armed with her “K Drama Rules for True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos. All's fair in love and Korean dramas, right? But when the fun and games turn to feelings, Desi finds out that real-life love is about way more than just drama.
Maurene Goo's I Believe in a Thing Called Love is a fun, heartwarming story of falling in lovefor real.
A Margaret Ferguson Book
Praise for I Believe in a Thing Called Love:
“Desi's implementation of measures such as ‘Be Caught in an Obviously Lopsided Love Triangle’ yields hilarious, at times unintended results, lending this teen rom-com a surprisingly thoughtful conclusion . . . [Goo's] funny, engaging narrative also delivers powerful messages of inclusion and acceptance.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“The art-centric romance that develops between Desi and Luca is rewarding to follow, as are their parental relationships, particularly that between Desi and her widowed Appa. Goo simultaneously honors and deconstructs romantic tropes, both in general and specific to K dramas, and does so using a wonderfully diverse cast.” Publishers Weekly, starred review
“In the tradition of best-laid plans, Desi’s goes painfully awry in ways that elevate the story above the level of fluffy, cross-cultural rom-com. Friends and family are well crafted to inspire discussions about the comfort and complications they afford . . . Readers who crave believability with their fun and wit will be satisfied with the way the plan works out.” VOYA
"This is the book I desperately wish I could have read when I was in high school. I love this book so much, and I can't wait to give it to my kids and every teen I know. Fun, snarky, flawed-but-great characters come alive on the pages and make you wish you could hang out with them every day. And a romance so sweet you find yourself rooting desperately for it all to work out. But possibly my absolute favorite part is that it has one of the best father/daughter relationship dynamics I've ever read in a YA novel. I fell in love with the relationships as well as the characters. Charming and awkward and hysterically funny, this is simply awesome!" Ellen Oh, author of the Prophecy series and founder of We Need Diverse Books
"I Believe in a Thing Called Love is the perfect summer readreally, the perfect anytime read. I laughed and I swooned and I streamed way too many K dramas. Maurene Goo's fresh, funny writing had me hooked from the first chapter. I loved it!" Morgan Matson, New York Times–bestselling author of The Unexpected Everything
"This is a hilarious and endearing romance full of zany Korean-drama fun. You'll fall in love even as you're falling into a pool!" Melissa de la Cruz, #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Isle of the Lost: A Descendants Novel and Something In Between
|Product dimensions:||5.30(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 18 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
I Believe in a Thing Called Love
By Maurene Goo
Farrar, Straus and GirouxCopyright © 2017 Maurene Goo
All rights reserved.
If you thought of life as a series of nostalgic images arranged in a slo-mo montage, you'd miss a lot of the tedious bits. In between the fuzzy images of blowing out birthday candles and first kisses would be a whole lot of sitting on your sofa watching TV. Or doing homework. Or learning how to create the perfect beach wave for your hair with a flatiron.
Or in my case, overseeing yet another school event. Like the fall carnival.
Add to that, some vomit.
I gingerly tapped Andy Mason's back as he hurled into a recycling bin. This was definitely one of those poignant scenes that would not make it into my life montage.
"All good?" I asked the six-feet-four tennis team captain as he straightened up. He wiped his mouth gingerly and nodded.
"Thanks, Des," he said sheepishly.
"No problem, but maybe don't go on the Brain Melter three times in a row?"
It was a Saturday night in late November and the Monte Vista High School fall carnival was in full swing on our campus — a sprawling state-of-the-art modern architectural wonder built on an Orange County seaside bluff.
Andy staggered off, passing by my best friend, Fiona Mendoza. She steered clear of him, wrinkling her nose. "A barfer?" she asked, wearing slouchy sweatpants, a crisp men's shirt, hiking sandals, and a lightning-bolt-patterned scarf. Her heavily lined amber eyes were staring at me, blinking slowly and deliberately. She would have looked like a Mexican American Disney princess if it weren't for the fact that she dressed like a hobo with a mean makeup collection.
"It's always the huge guys that have delicate little stomachs," I said.
"Lucky you." She winked.
I snorted. "Yeah, you love huge guys." Fiona, in fact, loved tiny girls.
My snort morphed into a hacking cough, and I bent over from the sheer force of it. When I straightened up Fiona was holding a thermos. "Your dad asked me to bring this to you," she said.
There were two cold-and-flu pills taped to the lid and I smiled when I saw the Post-it attached. My dad's scrawled handwriting read: Eat a lot even if you feel like shitty! There were black smudges on everything, the signature of a car mechanic.
I opened the thermos and the aroma of salty seaweed soup wafted out. "Mm, thanks Fi."
"You're welcome but why the hell are you here? Don't you have, like, the black lung?" she asked as we walked over to a bench and sat down.
"Because, hello, I'm in charge of it. Also, black lung is now commonly known as pneumonia. So no, I don't have that."
"You're in charge of everything. No offense, Desi, but this is just the lame-ass school carnival." Fiona draped herself across the bench. "Couldn't some underling in the student government have handled this?"
"Who? My hapless veep, Jordan?" Jordan was my vice president and was voted in primarily because of his hair. "He would have shown up tomorrow. No way. I didn't spend weeks planning this so that someone could mess up the Monte Vista carnival rep."
Fiona stared at me, letting the dorkiness of that statement settle between us. When I had been duly punished, she spoke. "Des, you need to chill. It's senior year, calm down already." Fiona's entire body punctuated that point — sitting cross-legged on the bench, one arm propped up on the armrest, her chin resting on it.
I took a sip of my soup before responding. "Have I been accepted into Stanford yet?"
Fiona straightened up then, pointing a long, glittery fingernail at me. "No! No. Once you turn that application in, I don't want to hear that word for the rest of the year." She paused dramatically. "Actually, never again for my entire life."
"Well, too bad!" I popped the pills into my mouth and downed some water.
She stared at me again, her gaze unnerving and a little scary. "Des, you're like a sure thing. If a nerd Mother-Teresa-Miss-Teen-America like you doesn't get into that school, who will?"
I coughed again, a phlegmy rattle that harkened the end of days. Fiona visibly recoiled from me.
I pounded my chest before speaking. "Do you know how many kids look just like me on paper? A 4.25 GPA, student body president, varsity sports, perfect SAT score, one billion hours of community service?"
Fiona's expression slackened at this familiar refrain. "Well, isn't that why you requested an interview?" Her voice was on the edge of boredom as she eyed a group of girls walking by us. My best friend since second grade, Fiona had had the Desi Lee Stanford dream ballad memorized since I started belting it at the age of ten.
"Yeah, but the interview's in February, a month after I turn in my application. It's making me nervous now that the early action application deadline's actually passed," I muttered.
"Des, we've talked about this a million times. You wanted to do regular decision, better odds and all that?"
I poked at my soup. "Yeah, I know."
"So don't sweat it, okay?" Fiona patted my arm.
After I finished my soup Fiona bailed to go find our friend Wes Mansour. I roamed the carnival again — making sure the boys' junior varsity baseball team wasn't giving away all the plushie prizes to cute girls and keeping people from rioting while in the never-ending line for the soft-serve ice cream truck. I was headed toward the restrooms when I ran into a few juniors whom I recognized — a well-groomed boyish bunch with impeccable T-shirts and expensive kicks.
"Hey, boss. How's it going?" one of them asked me, all sparkly eyes and charm. The kind of guy born with a fedora jauntily perched on his head.
I felt their eyes on me and my cheeks flushed. "Um, good. Have fun!" I waved at them with awkward jazz hands before walking away. For God's sake. Have fun! Who was I — their mom? I was mentally kicking myself when someone grabbed me from behind.
"Yeah, what's up, boss?" The teasing voice was inches from my ear. Wes. Thick black hair set back into a kind of modern, perfectly mussed pompadour, the most immaculately smooth brown skin, and sleepy eyes always weighed down by his outrageous eyelashes. Girls loved him. Yes, my two best friends were these sexy people who reminded me of my own unsexiness on a daily basis.
I spun around and smacked his arm.
Wes clutched it and winced. "Use your words!" he barked. Fiona was behind him, holding a giant plastic bag full of pink cotton candy. I scowled at both of them but before I could respond, another coughing fit struck.
"Ew, Des," Wes said, covering his nose with his Tshirt collar. "I've got a huge game next week and if I get sick, I'll kill you." Like me, Wes was also a nerd jock. His sport of choice was basketball, his science of choice physics, his geekery of choice comics and Settlers of Catan. He once held the number one ranking online for three months until he got beaten by an eight-year-old girl from Brazil.
"It's good to get exposed to germs, you know," I said, and cleared my throat violently. Both Wes and Fiona made faces.
"Spare us, Dr. Desi," Wes grumbled.
"Oh, I'm just getting started. Shall I start my lecture on the future of fecal transplants?"
Wes closed his eyes dramatically. "I'd like to go one week without having to hear about the merits of freaking gut bacteria."
I shrugged. "Fine. But you guys will all be thanking me later when I'm a doctor curing seasonal allergies with fecal transplants."
"God!" Fiona tossed the rest of her cotton candy into a trash can.
I waited for more complaints but instead I got silence. And strange expressions. Fiona and Wes were looking behind me. I turned around and stared into a very large chest.
"What are fecal transplants?" a low voice asked.
I looked up. Oh, Lord.
Max Peralta. Six feet two inches of hot, hot ... freshman. Then I heard snickering behind me. When Fi and Wes had found out that my first-week-of-school crush had turned out to be a ninth grader — well, it was the best day ever.
"Oh, uh nothing. Hey, hi!" I said, my voice already at a weird level of dog-hearing-only pitch. Desi, do NOT speak until you can freaking control your voice.
He smiled, teeth white against tan, sun-kissed skin. Howww in God's name was this a freshman?
"Hey, so good job with the carnival, Desi."
I blushed, deeply. "Thanks, Max." All right, you've got this. Just keep your expression cool, relax your shoulders, keep your natural eager-beaver instinct in check!
He looked down at his feet for a second, then cocked his head up with a smile. Dang.
"Um, I was wondering ... Are you busy after this?" he asked.
My voice caught in my throat. I cleared it. NO squeaky voice! "After ... the carnival?"
"Yeah, do you have to, I don't know, clean up or something?"
My ears started to burn, and I could feel the friend eyeballs on me. "Nope, no cleaning. I'm free." Wait, was I encouraging this? He was cute, no doubt ... but still a freshman.
It was like he read my mind. Keeping his eyes on mine, he asked, "I know you probably don't date freshmen ...?"
But he was right. He was a freshman. I was a senior. So I tried to muster a kind rejection. But instead, I felt a cough coming on. I put my hand to my chest and shut my mouth tight — no, this was NOT the time.
But there are just some things that have a force of their own.
So I coughed. Really hard.
And that phlegm that had been rattling in my chest all day?
Landed right on the front of his crisp, striped shirt.CHAPTER 2
Wanting to kill myself was too mild a description.
I felt a familiar paralysis set in and covered my mouth with my hands, staring at the glob on the navy and red stripes. Those stripes would be forever burned into my memory. Thick blue stripes with thin red ones in between. A pretty nice shirt, really.
"Ugh ... is that?" I heard Max, but I still couldn't bring myself to look at his face. Only saw him stretch his shirt out and make a disgusted sound.
Finally, I let out a feeble, "Sorry, I'm sick."
"It's ... okay. Um, okay I'm just going to ..." And then he scurried off into the crowd.
I threw the hood of my jacket over my head and turned to Fiona, screaming into her shoulder.
She petted my head awkwardly. "Wow, that was an epic flailure, even for you. I mean, wow," she said. Wes was too busy laugh-crying to say anything.
Flailure. The clever word Wes had come up with for when I failed at flirting. Get it? Flirt + failure = flailure. Birthed during freshman year, when the shy and sweet Harry Chen, whom I had tutored in English exhaustively for a year because I was in love with him, confessed that he had a crush on our English teacher. Our male English teacher.
But even before that incident, I had always flailed. Every time I tried talking to a guy. Every time a guy talked to me or showed any inkling of interest. It always went wrong. It didn't make sense; in all other parts of my life I was the Together Girl. Stanford-Bound Girl. It was the one thing that I couldn't ever seem to get a handle on.
How utterly clichéd — excelling at all parts of life but love. Wah-wah.
I looked up at Fiona with bleary eyes. "Thanks. Always a beacon of comfort. Bosom buddy. Buddy ol' pal. Pal gal. Gal ... pal."
Fiona shook her head grimly. If one was seeking comfort and a cozy embrace from a friend, Fiona Mendoza was not open for business. She was more of the slap-you-silly, back-to-reality type.
She shrugged. "At least he's just a freshman." The word freshman made me wail harder into her shoulder. I had let my crush on Max die a swift death when I found out he was in ninth grade, but he was still hot. A hot guy who had been about to ask me out.
My two best friends, for all their good intentions, could never understand why being in a relationship was almost mythical to me. These two came out of the womb with built-in fan clubs.
Wes held up his phone and took a photo of me.
"Give me that!" I screeched, snatching it out of his hands and swiftly deleting the picture.
He whined, "Come on, I'm just adding it to my Famous Desi Flail moments."
"Do you want to die?" I threatened Wes with death on a daily basis.
My flailures had become so expected, so reliable, that I was even making a joke about them in my college application essay to Stanford. You know, to show actual human flaws. Because even flaws could be spun into something positive. I hoped that my winning combination of humility and humiliation would get me in. That, or my SAT score.
And for the most part, I could laugh about it. I had so much on my plate that it was probably for the best that boys didn't take up my time, in addition to everything else. There were so many other things that I needed to focus my attention on.
Plus the idea of letting another human see your pores that up close was frightening to me.
* * *
The next week at school, I was on the soccer field battling it out against Eastridge Academy.
I loved soccer; it was like chess and a hundred-yard dash all mixed into one. On a good day, it was like I could see into the future: each pass part of a master plan that ended with a ball in the back of the net.
And today was one of those good days.
It was deep into injury time and we were tied 1–1. Now or never, Des. My teammate Leah Hill and I made split-second eye contact before she passed the ball to me. I leaped above the matching gleaming braids of Eastridge's defense and powered the ball down into the corner of the net.
The whistle blew and I wheeled away to celebrate our win as the Eastridge players collapsed in a heap of tears and instant recriminations.
After a round of high fives, I said bye to my teammates and headed toward the parking lot.
"Rest up, Lee!" Coach Singh called to me as I reached my dad's car. I waved limply in the direction of her voice because I was still battling that stupid cold. Now that the adrenaline rush of the game had subsided, I was exhausted.
A lumbering baby-blue American-auto masterpiece was waiting for me. Even though my dad was a mechanic who could fix up any classic car to perfection, he drove a very unsexy 1980 Buick LeSabre the size of a houseboat. I swore my dad's eccentricities grew exponentially every year.
And yes, my father was picking me up from school. Last year, I had crashed my birthday present from my dad — a restored hunter-green Saab convertible which I'd had all of twenty minutes — into a street lamp ten feet away from our house. A rabbit had jumped out in front of me and instead of braking, my immediate reaction was to steer the car wildly away from it.
After that, my dad was convinced that I couldn't be trusted to have my own car, but he did let me drive his uncrushable boat short distances and I never asked him to replace the Saab. At the top of my life goals was to never worry my dad.
He was reading a newspaper in the driver's seat when I walked up and heaved the car door open.
"Oh! There she is!" he said with a wide smile, folding the newspaper and tossing it on the dash. His smile lit up his broad, round face. Laugh lines crinkled the corners of his eyes and his tan skin. He still had a shock of thick black hair, his only vanity. My dad spent every morning carefully combing and fluffing that head of hair, only to pull on a grease-stained shirt and cargo shorts afterward.
"Hi, Appa." I tossed my backpack and duffel into the backseat and then dropped into the passenger seat with a relieved groan, every part of me aching.
My dad's rough palm was immediately on my forehead and he tsked disapprovingly. "Oh my gah. You have a fever!" Oh my gah killed me every time.
I leaned back and closed my eyes. "I'm fine, I just need some juk and a superhot shower." Juk was Korean porridge, and my dad made a mean one, with mushrooms and shredded bits of salty seaweed.
"Ch, who you think you're kidding? You shouldn't go to school tomorrow. No homework tonight, only fun things," my dad said as we drove home.
"No, no fun things!" I said with a laugh, only half joking. I had to drop off some of the senior class's donated canned goods at a nearby church and finish up an AP English lit paper.
"Hey! If Appa says fun things, then only fun things!"
My dad always referred to himself in the third person, and it was always Appa, the Korean word for Dad. It would be embarrassing if it wasn't, you know, endearing. My dad's kinda bad English had the most perfect comedic touch, and sometimes I wondered if he wasn't just faking it to crack me up. We spoke both Korean and English at home, more often than not a wonky fusion of my bad Korean and his bad English.
Excerpted from I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo. Copyright © 2017 Maurene Goo. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
[begin strikethrough]Chapter[end strikethrough] Step 5: Have a Secret Dream That Brings You Closer to the Guy,
Step 6: Doggedly Pursue Your Dream, No Matter the Cost to Your Well-Being,
Step 7: Mystery Surrounds the Guy but Find Out More,
Step 8: Be Caught in an Obviously Lopsided Love Triangle,
Step 9: Get into a Predicament That Forces Both the Guy and You into an Intimate Bonding Moment,
Step 10: Find Out the Guy's Big Secret, Preferably through Excruciatingly Repetitive Flashbacks,
Step 11: Prove That You Are Different from All Other Women — IN THE ENTIRE WORLD,
Step 12: Life-Threatening Event Makes Him/You Realize How Real Your Love Is,
Step 13: Reveal Your Vulnerabilities in a Heartbreaking Manner,
Step 14: Lock That Baby In with a Kiss! Finally. Maybe.,
Step 15: Fall Deeply into Cringe-Inducing Mushy Love,
Step 16: Pick Your Very Own Love Ballad to Blast Jarringly Over and Over Again!,
Step 17: Worlds Have to Collide for Some Comic Relief,
[begin strikethrough]Step 18: Meet His Family and Win Them Over[end strikethrough] Chapter 18,
[begin strikethrough]Step 19: You Must Make the Ultimate Sacrifice to Prove Your Love[end strikethrough] Chapter 19,
[begin strikethrough]Step 20: You Are Not Allowed to Be Happy Until the Very Last Possible Minute[end strikethrough] Chapter 20,
[begin strikethrough]Step 21: Betrayal Time — One of You Kinda-Not-Really Betrays the Other[end strikethrough] Chapter 21,
[begin strikethrough]Step 22: At Your Lowest Point, Your Life Is Only Made Up of Flashback Montages of Good Times[end strikethrough] Chapter 22,
[begin strikethrough]Chapter[end strikethrough] Step 23: Take Drastic Measures for Your Happy Ending,
Step 24: Get Your Happy Ending,
The Ultimate K Drama Starter Guide,
Also by Maurene Goo,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is the most adorable book! Im def going to read more from this author.
Desi excels at everything. She’s on the varsity soccer team, aces all her AP classes, has mass amounts of trophies for her academic achievements, and she valedictorian. However, the one thing Desi does not excel at is boys. She’s never had a boyfriend and it has everything to do with her awkwardness when she’s around the opposite sex. So, when a new kid shows up at school, Desi decides to do a little research to win him over. She turns to her father’s beloved Korean dramas for help. Obviously, since Desi is following a checklist from a Korean drama, her methods are a bit extreme. She does all sorts of stupid stuff to get the guys attention. She joins the art club (something she knows nothing about) in order to get close to him, she even goes as far as to set up a traffic accident so that she can play the damsel in distress. To say that Desi went a bit overboard is an understatement. I thought she’d use the K-drama as guidance but she actually made a check-list and went through the steps the heroines took when snagging their guy on the show. While I didn’t necessarily like some of the things Desi did on her quest to snag the guy, I loved her father. Actually, I loved the relationship that the two of them had. They were very close and the father was so adorable. He would just sit in his chair, munching on pickles, getting all giddy over his K-dramas. No matter what decision Desi made, he always supported her, even when he disagreed with her. In all honesty, the father totally overshadowed the main characters in the story for me. I Believe in a Thing Called Love was predictable but would have been an adorable read if Desi wasn’t so intense. She was like a spazzed out poodle on a mission. Some of the things she did or said had me wondering about her sanity. I don’t want to go into detail about the lengths she goes to to not only get the guy, but to keep him because a lot of it is a bit crazy. All I’ll say is, if I was Luca, I would run. I would run as fast as I could and never look back.
This was such a fun story! I’ve never watched a Korean drama, but this story made me want to watch one. The main character, Desi, is a perfectionist. She decides to get the guy she likes by following the steps that the main characters follow in Korean dramas. It was funny and sometimes dangerous, but always entertaining. I fell in love with the characters. I found Desi so relatable because she had flaws and made mistakes. The story opens with her coughing phlegm right onto a cute guy, so I knew she would be entertaining. I also loved Luca. He was so sweet with Desi. The characters are important for a romantic comedy, and these ones were great! I loved this story! I can’t wait to read more of Maurene’s books!
It's so funny how unexpected things happen. This book wasn't even on my radar, when one of my teens who LOVES K-POP (Korean Pop Music) came to the library and asked me for this book. I hadn't even known about it, but I put it on my list to ask for her at TLA. I'm so glad I didn't miss out on this book! Desi is the true definition of an All-American teenager. She was an athlete, she had stellar grades, she was president of her senior class, BUT she's never been in love. Even with the slightest notion of flirting, something totes weird happens. Finally, she decides to take matters into her own hands by making a list of things that people do in K-Dramas to help them fall in love. Y'all know how I am with contemporary romances. Even more points if they're a rom-com. So naturally, I just KNEW I would love this one. However, I unfortunately didn't love the characters, and as a character driven reader, this was a let down for me. Desi was fine in the beginning and I thought it was so cute that she was willing to do these things in the name of love, but then things got a bit scary. She went over and beyond ALOT and sometimes it was actually scary. And her friends thought it was crazy, but still helped her with it and I just couldn't understand that. Someone should've told her. And the love interest, I just didn't really care for him. I'm not sure why, but I never connected with him. And because I didn't care for him by his self, I wasn't a fan of them together. What kept me turning the pages though, was the humor/ second hand embarrassment in it. I found myself cringing and blushing along with Desi throughout the entire novel. Although she wasn't my favorite, I DID feel bad everytime something happned to her. Even Maddy said "she has worse luck than me! I didn't know that was possible." What I LOVED about this book was the diverseness in it. There were people of color, there were different sexual orientations, and I learned alot about K-Dramas (and K-Pop from Maddy, my teen from work lol) and the Korean culture that was expressed in this book. This book is set in school, but still a perfect way to get geared up for summer with a nice contemporary romance. Make sure you get ready to laugh before you start reading this one!
A young adult novel revolving around teenage love and the Korean drama formula to get said teenage love? SIGN ME UP. I was so freaking excited to read the synopsis for this book. It certainly gave me TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE feels, which is one of my all-time favorite duology-turned-trilogy series. Oh man, that book changed my life and it definitely became a trailblazer for Asian American writers. Without saying much, I had a lot of expectations going into this book. Plus, the cover was so cute. I really hope it gets some buzz because I call it an achievement whenever an Asian American writer breaks through the mold. It’s long overdue that we have Asian American protagonists. This is our year. FLAME IN THE MIST? ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN? I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE? Yes, yes, yes! So, I pretty much swallowed this thing in a matter of hours after I started. I was sucked into the world that was so familiar to me. I spent a lot of my youth (and occasionally now) binge-watching Korean dramas with my best friend. I remember the first time I started watching them with my mother and man, those episodes can KILL you. I hated the waiting until the next episode and was grateful for dramas like BOYS OVER FLOWERS and PRINCESS HOURS that had been out for a while that I could binge watch and get through the entire spectrum of human emotion in a matter of days. I was completely invested in Desi Lee’s story (did I mention how much I love her name? I thought it might have been influenced by Desi Arnaz, but that was never really mentioned so I have no idea!) and wanted to know what would happened between her and the perfect specimen that was Luca who accidentally waltzed into her AP English class. I think the idea of devising the Korean drama formula to attain the boy of your dreams IS A GENIUS setup for a YA novel like this. I fell in love with so much. The references to Korean culture (the Korean terminology!), Desi’s father (oh my gosh, he was so lovable), the idea of realizing that you can’t control everything, and that this is…a love story. It had humor, a little bit of angst, and definitely some feel-good moments that make it a true contemporary story. I was prepared to love this story, especially when it had SO much potential to be the angstiest thing in the world. Truth time: I didn’t get a lot of angst. Maybe like…10% angst. Which is totally cool! I think if my 16-year-old self were to read this, she would love it. Unconditionally. But me as an adult who lives for the complexities of the human heart (which basically means I want my heart ripped apart and batted by Negan’s Lucille)? I liked it. This is definitely for people who want to read a happy story. It certainly gives me Jenny Han and Morgan Matson vibes – the type of book that you want a warm, sunny afternoon to read under a shady tree on a fancy wire bench. Or on a really stormy day where you have yourself some hot cocoa and your favorite blanket. There were moments where I thought that, like her best friends Wes and Fiona, that she was pretty insane for the lengths that she was going to to obtain Luca’s love. Like, hot damn. Though, I suppose if you’re going to follow the K-drama formula, you might as follow the whole way though. But I have to hand it to Desi that she definitely came off as an insanely unique character. I loved that it wasn’t completely about LOVE, but also the relationships between best friends and between family, and learning how to cope with is
I needed a book that was funny, and Maurene Goo is hilarious. There are genuine moments every few pages where I laughed out loud, or snorted, and in several instances screamed at what I couldn't stop from happening. It's a perfect book about a girl who just needs to feel in control in her life because things she couldn't control hit her when her mom died. And she does control so much and excels at sooo much, aside from romantic relationships. In those she racks up "flailures" (flirting + failure), so she decides to do what she's always done: study a situation and develop a series of steps in order to be successful. This mc is awkward and Maurene Goo is unafraid of that awkwardness. It's hilarious without feeling forced. And I just love these characters so much. The supportive, imperfect friends. A father/daughter relationship that is realistic, fun, and supportive of each other. A MC that is powerful and confident, but also, sometimes not. And a romance, well, a romance that isn't afraid to be a romance. No apologies. I love a writer who is unafraid to love something, like unapologetically love something, and Maurene Goo with I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE just embraces her love of romantic comedy and k-dramas. I don't know much about k-dramas, but I really need to watch some now that I've read this book. And really, I need this book to become a book everyone reads, and be on a million school summer reading lists. Then after everyone has read it, I need Netflix to adapt it into a limited series to capture all the incredible, beautiful, hilarious things this story is (because really, a movie deal? No movie could do justice to this). I'll rate I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE with some of my other favorite "funny" books: Lance Rubin's DENTON LITTLE series, Max Wirestone's DAHLIA MOSS series, and Louise Rennison's GEORGIA NICHOLSON series . . . And I need to go back and find Maurene Goo's first book: SINCE YOU ASKED
I have become hugely obsessed with Korean dramas since summer of this year, and I have absolutely no regrets. Sure, I’m in a perpetual reading slump because all I ever want to do is stream another kdrama episode, but after years of blogging, I’m a firm believer in reading when you feel like it rather than forcing yourself to do it. Reading is a hobby, after all. Unless you’re a book editor or work in publishing, in which case, you have an amazing job, congratulations – I wish I was you. However, there comes a time in one’s life when the wifi slows down to the pace of a snail and streaming a one hour episode turns into a day’s work. That’s when you close your laptop and pick up that book about a girl trying to win a guy using kdrama tactics. Because when you can’t watch a kdrama, you read about one instead. While I’m kind of annoyed that I couldn’t watch more episodes of The Heirs, I Believe In A Thing Called Love is the first book I’ve read in a while, and I binged it so fast because it’s just as cute as it sounds. Also, all the kdrama references are to die for – I got so many recommendations. I’ll have a post up soon listing all of the kdramas mentioned in this book, so if that’s your thing, be on the lookout for that. The latest book by Maurene Goo is about a senior in high school named Desi. She’s up for valedictorian at her school, she has a ton of extracurriculars (unlike me), and she’s good at everything she tries her hand at. Except art. But more importantly: flirting. Her friends even call it flailing when she does it, because she never fails to flirt + fail = flail. I’m no master of flirting myself, but even I found myself cringing at the beginning when Desi was attempting to converse with her crush. So Desi has been averse to kdramas her entire life, but her father is obsessed with them. I identify with him. However, her new crush/the new boy at school makes her want to figure out how to do love right, and she’s suddenly struck with inspiration when she realizes that all kdramas utilize a formula where the end result is that the guy and the girl fall in love. Desi, in all her nerd girl glory, writes a list with kdrama steps of how to get the guy, near death instances and all. She figures that she can’t flail if she has a plan and a list, and she immediately gets to work, finishing three whole kdramas within the weekend. It’s all very adorable and well-intentioned, and plays out just as you would imagine (two words: awk and ward). It’s pretty great. Some Things I Loved About This Book • The relationship between Desi and her father are family relationship goals. Her father is always looking out for Desi and Desi is always looking out for her father – they love each other so much and help each other through life’s obstacles and man, I wish I had a relationship like that with anyone. • As I mentioned earlier, the very specific kdrama references make this book so perfect. Even though I hadn’t recognized any of the scenes (I’ve only completed eight kdramas so far, okay? Geez.) I could easily imagine them, and it really helped add to the reading experience. • At the very end, the author includes THE ULTIMATE KDRAMA STARTER GUIDE... Read the rest at: https://lonereaderblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/05/i-believe-in-a-thing-called-love-by-maurene-goo-a-book-for-the-kdrama-lovers/
I recently received an e-arc copy of I believe in a thing called love by Maureen Goo so that i could give you all my honest review. Going in to this story it sounded like it would be a cutesy contemporary romance which sometimes I’m just in the mood for. This story is about a Korean-American girl who thrives to be the best at everything. The one thing she has never been good at is being around boys she is crushing on…or dating in general. She decides to create a list of how to get a specific boy to like her using Korean dramas as influence. All in all, I liked this book but didn’t overly love it. I felt like some of the things that happened to the main character Desi when confronted with boys are just over the top. It seems impossible that that many embarrassing things can happen to one person. On top of it, the things she does to her crush (while following her set of rules) are sometimes downright mean…which ended with me not really liking her as a person in general. I can’t imagine doing some of these things all to gain the attention of a guy, but that’s just me. That being said, it was still a quick contemporary read with some cute romance in it and I overall enjoyed myself while reading it.
I have a sweet spot for YA rom-coms, and I also adore books that poke fun at traditional story-telling tropes while still incorporating them into the story in a way that is hilarious and entertaining. Maurene Goo has certainly done all of those things in I Believe in a Thing Called Love. This is the perfect summer read, and I can't say enough about what a great reading experience I had with it. Desi is such a charming main character. I fell in love with her from her very first "flailure" (flirting failure), and Goo had me cheering for her all the way through. She is the epitome of a teenage overachiever, and the fact that Desi uses such a systematic approach to finding true love is not only hilarious, but also plays into her character so well. Maurene Goo did such a brilliant job of developing her. When Desi decides to overcome her flailures once and for all by studying the ways of the heroines from some of her father's favorite K Dramas, as a reader you know that hilarity is about to ensue and things are destined to go terribly awry, but watching it all unfold was an absolute pleasure. I haven't yet watched a K Drama myself, but Maurene provides a handy guide in the back of the book to get you started on becoming a K Drama enthusiast yourself! I am so excited to check some of them out! Desi's love interest, Luca Drakos is oh-so-swoon-worthy and a total broody book boyfriend that readers will absolutely fall in love with themselves.