Skip this embarrassing example of clueless cultural appropriation.

HELLO, I LOVE YOU

A white American teen transfers into a posh Korean boarding school and falls for a Korean pop heartthrob in this debut novel.

Grace Wilde knows what it’s like to be music royalty. Her father’s a famous producer, and her brother’s a country-music star. What she doesn’t know is anything about Korea before she travels there to attend the Korean School of Foreign Studies: she chose her new school arbitrarily in a desperate attempt to escape her family. Fortunately, her friendly Korean roommate, Sophie, takes Grace under her wing, even introducing Grace to her twin brother, Jason, the hunky lead singer of a popular Korean band. Sparks fly between Grace and Jason, though Jason’s fame and drinking habits and Grace’s unresolved family issues complicate their romance. Stout’s depiction of Korea is often shockingly insensitive and riddled with errors and inconsistencies. Grace thinks crowds of Korean people smell like garlic, is nauseated by Korean food, and obsesses over the horrors of squat toilets. A Korean character incorrectly describes Hangul, Korean writing, as a syllabary rather than an alphabet. In the end, the plot is a variation on the classic “White Savior” story (think Dances with Wolves). It’s deeply unfortunate that a novel set in Korea with many characters of color is primarily about its white protagonist’s journey of self-discovery.

Skip this embarrassing example of clueless cultural appropriation. (Romance. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-05259-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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An inspirational read.

THE LIGHT IN HIDDEN PLACES

A true story of faith, love, and heroism.

Stefania “Fusia” Podgórska longed for nothing more than to leave the rural Polish farm she was born on for the city of Przemyśl where her older sisters lived. At the age of 12, she did just that, finding a job with the Diamants, a family of Jewish shopkeepers who welcomed her into their lives. For three years they lived peacefully until the Germans dropped bombs on Przemyśl. The family struggled on as the war and anti-Semitism ramped up, but eventually, the Diamants were forced into a ghetto. Then 17, Catholic Fusia was determined to help them survive, even at the risk of her own safety, while also caring for her 6-year-old sister, Helena, after their family was taken by the Nazis for forced labor. Knowing the risks involved, Fusia made a bold decision to harbor Jews. As the number of people she sheltered increased, so did her panic about being caught, but she was determined to do what was right. Cameron (The Knowing, 2017, etc.) used Stefania’s unpublished memoir as well as interviews with family members as source material. She deftly details Fusia’s brave actions and includes moving family photographs in the author’s note. Narrated in the first person, the story highlights essential events in Fusia’s life while maintaining a consistent pace. Readers will be pulled in by the compelling opening and stay for the emotional journey.

An inspirational read. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35593-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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An entertaining story of forbidden love, family drama, and elegant couture.

THE LAST LEGACY

Since the moment Bryn was born, she was destined to take her place among the Roths.

Even after her parents died and she was taken to live with her great-aunt Sariah in Nimsmire, far away from the filth of the big city and the infamous Roth reputation, Bryn was destined to eventually become wrapped up in her family’s less-than-proper line of work—which was the cause of her parents’ deaths. When she returns to the city of Bastian on her 18th birthday, something she has eagerly anticipated after growing up in a small city under Sariah’s watchful eye, she is finally forced to come to terms with her identity and assume her rightful position in her family’s mysterious business. This feat would have been difficult enough on its own, for Bryn isn’t accustomed to her family members’ crude behavior, but she certainly isn’t prepared to meet the handsome, strong, brooding silversmith in her family’s employ; Ezra Finch definitely complicates things. This fast-paced tale with a Victorian feeling is filled with an abundance of scandal, high fashion, intrigue, and, of course, romance. While the large cast of characters is at times difficult to keep straight and the plot-driven prose would have benefited from more worldbuilding detail, the delightfully swoonworthy love story will keep readers engaged and the pages turning eagerly as they hurtle toward the book’s satisfying conclusion. Characters are White by default.

An entertaining story of forbidden love, family drama, and elegant couture. (family tree) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-82372-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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