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.
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 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.