“Jenny didn’t get to be an award-winning classically trained cellist without choosing practice over fun. That is, until the night she meets Jaewoo. Mysterious, handsome and just a little bit tormented, Jaewoo is exactly the kind of distraction Jenny would normally avoid. And yet, she finds herself pulled into spending an unforgettable evening wandering Los Angeles with him on the night before his flight home to South Korea.
With Jaewoo an ocean away, there’s no use in dreaming of what could have been. But when Jenny and her mother move to Seoul to take care of her ailing grandmother, who does Jenny meet at the elite arts academy she’s just been accepted to? Jaewoo.
Finding the dreamy stranger who swept you off your feet in your homeroom is one thing, but Jaewoo isn’t just any student. Turns out, he’s a member of one of the biggest K-pop bands in the world. And like most K-pop idols, Jaewoo is strictly forbidden from dating alone. When a relationship means not only jeopardizing her place at her dream music school, but also endangering everything Jaewoo’s worked for, Jenny has to decide once and for all just how much she’s willing to risk for love.”
-Synopsis from inside front cover
XOXO by Axie Oh might just be one of my favorite reads of this year. I loved everything about this book, including this gorgeous cover that first caught my eye.
As a big fan of K-dramas (Korean dramas) and someone who is interested in Asian culture and South Korea, this book was absolutely perfect for me.
Jenny Go meets Jaewoo at her uncle’s karaoke bar and they have a memorable night wandering around Los Angeles, just hours before he has to fly back to South Korea. She knows very little about his personal life, but still tries to get in touch with him when she finds out that she’ll be living in Korea for a few months. At first, she doesn’t hear back. Then, she runs into him at school.
The school that Jenny transfers to in Korea is called Seoul Arts Academy and it is a boarding school full of talented young performing artists just like her. Some of them are in training to be K-pop stars while others are training to be musicians and singers. It turns out that Jaewoo is part of a huge K-pop group and is a rising star. Not only that, but he’s not allowed to be in a relationship because it will negatively impact his image.
Knowing this, Jenny tries to focus on making friends, keeping up with school and practicing cello for her upcoming showcase and, hopefully, a big audition for music school. But she can’t ignore the fact that she likes Jaewoo, and that he likes her, too. She ends up getting pulled into his world and gets to experience all of the good and not-so-good that comes with being a K-pop star.
This was a very lighthearted and enjoyable read. It was also quite long, at nearly 350 pages, and yet it didn’t feel like a long read. The writing is very focused and not once did my attention drift while reading. The pacing was very on point and I was engaged with every chapter. I had no idea how the story was going to end, so I was surprised at how things turned out. It was a good ending all around and a hopeful one, too.
I would recommend this to young adult readers, of course, but also to anyone looking for a lighthearted and sweet story. If you are even slightly interested in K-pop or Asian culture, you will definitely want to read this one.