S. & S./Simon Pulse. Sept. 2020. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534462519.
Gr 8 Up–International K-pop superstar Jung debuts with a novel about Rachel, a K-pop star-in-training who moved from New York to Korea as a child to pursue her dream. Now, six years later, Rachel is on the cusp of superstardom or losing her dream forever as she navigates the opportunity of a lifetime to sing with K-pop sensation Jason Lee while maintaining the squeaky clean image required by her label. While the book suggests, and at times directly addresses, feminist themes, the ending falls significantly short of these ideals. Secondary characters, particularly Rachel’s love interest, lack sufficient personality and operate primarily as plot devices, which may disappoint some. The novel occasionally touches on deep topics such as individual identity, beauty standards, and wealth privilege, but none are given a complete treatment so as to make a direct and unmistakable point.
VERDICT Fans of Maurene Goo’s Somewhere Only We Know will enjoy a return to K-pop subject matter and appreciate Jung’s insider perspective on the music industry, while also enjoying a candid narrative style reminiscent of Meg Cabot with a touch of Mean Girls. A worthwhile addition.

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