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FLIP THE SCRIPT

A fun and boundary-pushing take on typical K-drama romances.

A rookie K-drama actress experiences love triangles both on screen and off.

After uprooting her family’s life in Florida to pursue an acting career in Seoul, 16-year-old Hana Jin finally scored a leading role in a much-anticipated television series. But when the ratings for the first episode aren’t what the network hoped for, Hana is thrown into a fake dating relationship with her male co-star, K-pop idol Bryan Yoon. On top of that, the network surprises everyone by bringing in Hana’s former best friend, actress Minjee Park, to play Hana’s on-screen rival for Bryan’s character’s affections. But the love triangle on the show isn’t the only one that’s developing. Bryan shows real feelings and interest in Hana, but she can’t deny her developing attraction to Minjee. While trying to secure her position on the show, bisexual Hana must learn to navigate the harsh entertainment world and her complicated love life. K-drama viewers especially will love this lighthearted, page-turning homage to the genre that is filled with many recognizable tropes and behind-the-scenes looks at the industry. Hana’s career, interactions with the network, and encounters with fans and paparazzi demonstrate the intense, often overwhelming lifestyle and pressures of being an actress in Korea. With the inclusion of LGBTQ+ themes, the story challenges Korea’s heteronormative culture and media. The novel also transports readers to popular destinations in and around Seoul, beautifully highlighting Korean food and culture.

A fun and boundary-pushing take on typical K-drama romances. (Romance. 13-18)

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-293693-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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