“Teens who are feeling out of place, struggling to find their place in a new school, wondering where they want to go to college, or dealing with dating issues should find the book both fun and helpful.”
South Korean teenager Ji-Su has a lot going on. Not only is she expected to excel in her studies and participate in multiple extracurricular activities, but she must also go on seons, the Korean equivalent of blind dates, set up by her parents and their expensive matchmaker. Some of the seons go pretty well, others not so much.
In the midst of this whirlwind, Ji-Su is struggling to excel in her academics, and her grades are not what she and her parents wish them to be. Without consulting Ji-Su, her parents send her across the ocean to a private high school in San Francisco, where she must earn the grades which will get her into the kind of college her parents expect. She must also go on more seons, this time with Korean-American guys. She is homesick for her friends and family, frustrated with racism shown by some of her classmates, exhausted from applying to colleges, and keeps trying to figure out what is going on with two boys she really likes— and who maybe like her.
The book is set up in sections of the story, interspersed with dialogue from her seons. Most of those boys are never seen again, but she carries the experiences with her and speaks of them sometimes to her friends. The book gets into Ji-Su’s head and stays there for much of the time, telling of her days and her time with new friends, her host family, and the boys she dates.
There are so many words and people it is hard to really get to know the characters in depth, other than names and interests. Some people show up for a few pages and don’t appear again until later, merely as a plot point. Ji-Su herself is likable, but her feelings about things change from chapter to chapter, and it is hard to get a solid feel for who she really is.
The premise of this book is charming and unique with the idea of the seons, and there are interesting aspects of Korean culture that are very different from life here in the States. Teens who are feeling out of place, struggling to find their place in a new school, wondering where they want to go to college, or dealing with dating issues should find the book both fun and helpful.