Book Review: The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene G

The Way You Make Me Feel
by Maurene Goo
Goodreads | Amazon 
Series: no
Published: May 8th 2018
Rating: Frickin' awesome
Times read: 1
Recommended by: I auto-bought it because Maureen Goo

Co-read with Gabrielle because I live a charmed life like that. In The Way You Make Me Feel sixteen year old Clara's class clown way of life if sidetracked when she has to work in her dad's food truck with her worst enemy all summer.

Well, Clara is certainly an extrovert. I am always way more judgy of extroverts. I don't mean to be but because they approach the world in a completely different way that I do I need some damn good writing to make their motivations and actions understandable and not just attention seeking. Maureen Goo manages that deftly. Clara is completely unlike Desi from I Believe in a Thing Called Love. She is much less introspective and much more concerned with outside events. The Way You Make Me Feel is a more broadly comedic and less "thoughtful" but maintains the same level of charm and warmth. My only real complaint about this book is that it did feel like the ending was a bit abrupt and I wanted more closure.  Or just more. 

The Way You Make Me Feel hits all of my YA sweet spots diversity, vivid setting, excellent characterizations, and a large amounts of food. Ermahgerd, the food. I will confess that I have a strong dislike of all things kimchee. It has to do with the pickle/brine thing. I can't stand saurkraut, pickles, or olives in my food for the same reason. I still want one of the Kimchee Pasteles from this book. I would be making them at this moment if I knew where to find kimchee in Beijing. 

The disruption and mayhem fed my soul, and I looked around the auditorium triumphantly.

I love that Clara is not a model student who is hugely concerned what her parents will think of her if she doesn't overachieve. Not every Asian high school student loves the academic part of school. Or is good at it. She is slightly over the top and dramatic, but she is also never mean-spirited. This was a concern because she does tend to want to be the coolest person in the room. This contrasted with Rose, Clara's nemesis, who is hampered by the need to please every person that she comes in contact with. It is an odd couple type of situation and it was beautifully done. They have to get over their issues both with one another but also learn to deal with the issues that they have with themselves. I love when books portray the way that positive frienships enrich lives. 

Multiculturalism was portrayed in this book was *chef's kiss. Clara is American of Korean decent by way of Brazil. There is a complexity there that reflects real life. As someone whose hypothetical child would be half American, half German by way of China I definitely appreciate this. The secondary and tertiary characters are all authentically and casually diverse making Clara's LA that much more reflective of reality. Speaking of LA. I am a huge fan of books where the setting is in itself a character. 

Hamlet Wong is frickin' adorable. He is earnest and slightly nerdy. He genuinely cares about other people and sees through Clara's brash facade to the interesting and special person underneath. I know that I shouldn't want a high school summer romance to last forever but this one better stick. 

Clara's dad Adrian Shin is everything wonderful in this world, and I need him to have an adult romance novel to himself. I'll wait. But not patiently. Please get on that Maureen.  Heart eyed emojis is forever! 

Seriously, Maureen Goo deserves a round of applause and for this book to be read by everyone. Cute, funny, romantic, and the perfect antidote to every day of the week feeling like a Monday.

From Goodreads:

From the author of I Believe in a Thing Called Love, a laugh-out-loud story of love, new friendships, and one unique food truck.

Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn't so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind? 

With Maurene Goo's signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.

Book Review: I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

 So cute

So cute

I Believe in a Thing Called Love
by Maurene Goo 

Goodreads | Amazon 
Series: No, but I wouldn't mind one
Published: May 30th 2017
Number of times read: 1
Rating: And not I have a K-drama obsession

Do not go into this thinking that it is going to be anything but adorable.  High school senior Desi Lee has everything all together in her life together except love.  She meets a guy humiliates herself and decides that the key to love is to follow the steps of a K-drama. Hilarity, cuteness, and drama ensue. If you aren't familiar with K-dramas, don't worry it isn't necessary.  Just know that you are going to be binge watching them after you finish reading.

First of all, I loved the way that diversity was portrayed in this novel. Desi is Korean-American, and that is an essential part of the story. However, it was not a "problem."  She goes about her life being a high school senior. Her best friend is a gay Latinx girl, and her other best friend is a straight white boy. 

Desi is such a fun character.  She is smart,  funny, and determined. She also has quirky control issues and strange gaps in self-confidence.  She makes some questionable decisions, but they are so in line with her character that I can't even be mad at her.  She makes the choices that she does not because the author wants her to be funny or push forward the plot but because of who she is. She feels like a person that I would have loved to be friends with in high school.

I believed, and still believe, that you can build your dreams brick by brick. That you can accomplish anything with persistence.

Luca was a surprisingly nuanced character for a cute YA romance. He was handsome, yes but not perfect.  At one point a zit is mentioned and Luca kind of honks when he laughs.  He sends mixed signals; he has issues with his parents. He isn't great at everything.  It just made him all the more adorable.

I loved her relationship with her father.  He was so amazing and supportive.  I appreciated that he was a mechanic. Not every Asian parent is a doctor, lawyer, or engineer. One of my favorite scenes in the book was Desi and her father making ramen together.  The way they automatically and effortlessly divide the cooking tasks illustrates he strength of their relationship. 

I enjoyed the writing.  The word that comes to mind to describe it is "gentle."  Maurene Goo is understanding and kind to her characters. Does that make any sense or does it work only in my head? I was smiling throughout the whole book. Plot wise it was a bit far fetched in places, but that was easy to overlook as even those moments felt authentic and realistic. I enjoyed the sense of humor.  

One theme that resonated with me was the illusion of control.  I think that there are a lot of us who, even if we don't consciously admit it, feel that the more we micro manage our lives, the better we can deal with the unexpected (or prevent the unexpected.) Desi thinks that having the concrete steps for something and determinedly following those steps will invariably lead to success.

I read I Believe in a Thing Called Love in one sitting and regret nothing.  I have already bought Maurene Goo's debut novel Since You Asked.

From Goodreads:

Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.