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Hello, I Love You

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A teen escapes to a boarding school abroad and falls for a Korean pop star in this fun and fresh romantic novel in the vein of Anna and the French Kiss.

Grace Wilde is running—from the multi-million dollar mansion her record producer father bought, the famous older brother who’s topped the country music charts five years in a row, and the mother who blames her for her brother’s breakdown. Grace escapes to the farthest place from home she can think of, a boarding school in Korea, hoping for a fresh start.

She wants nothing to do with music, but when her roommate Sophie’s twin brother Jason turns out to be the newest Korean pop music superstar, Grace is thrust back into the world of fame. She can't stand Jason, whose celebrity status is only outmatched by his oversized ego, but they form a tenuous alliance for the sake of her friendship with Sophie. As the months go by and Grace adjusts to her new life in Korea, even she can't deny the sparks flying between her and the KPOP idol.

Soon, Grace realizes that her feelings for Jason threaten her promise to herself that she'll leave behind the music industry that destroyed her family. But can Grace ignore her attraction to Jason and her undeniable pull of the music she was born to write? Sweet, fun, and romantic, this young adult novel explores what it means to experience first love and discover who you really are in the process.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published June 9, 2015

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Katie M. Stout

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 575 reviews
June 5, 2015
He’s the hottest Korean I’ve ever seen.

Not that I have much experience with Koreans, but all the ones I’ve encountered couldn’t even be considered in the same realm as Sophie’s brother.

This is not a book for k-pop lovers. It is a book about a superior, condescending American and how she spreads her knowledge to the poor ignorant K-pop star.
“She doesn’t play any instrument,” Yoon Jae provides. “She just knows everything about music.”

“That’s not true,” I say. But I can’t help smiling at his blind confidence in me. “I only know a few things.”

“Would you be interested in helping me with a new song?” Jason asks.
This book is the k-pop equivalent of The Last Samurai. Let me explain. The Last Samurai is widely held as the movie that displays a prime example of Western superiority. Long story short: white guy goes into Japan without knowing anything, the language, the culture, the combat styles, out-Samurais all the Japanese dudes, wins the heart of the fairest Japanese woman in the village.

This book can pretty much be described in the same manner. White girl goes into South Korea. not knowing the language, the customs, improves the K-pop industry, wins the heart of the hottest K-pop idol in the land.

Bullshit. Absolutely bullshit. This book displays the stereotype of the ugly American at its worst. The main character is condescending, views everything foreign as "exotic," is completely unwilling to learn and appreciate the culture, and steadfastly clings onto her own standards without embracing the new. American tourists have a pretty bad reputation abroad, and the main character in this book displays no deviation from that stereotype.

This book MOCKS Korean culture. From the way the people smells, to the heavy accent, to the squat toilets, to the language, to the formalities within the culture.
“Why are there so many different levels of formality?” I ask Jason, praying he’s feeling gracious. “I don’t get it.”

“It has to do with respect,” he says, shocking me. “You want to give respect to people who have authority over you or are older.”

“Okay, I get that, but seven levels? Really?”

He doesn’t answer.

“It’s dumb” pops out of my mouth before I can stop it, and I mentally kick myself. Just what I need—to insult the language of the country I just moved to.

If you are expecting a lot of k-pop loving, as I did. Be prepared for severe disappointment.
I don’t have the nerve to tell him his music is heartless, mass-produced fluff.
The main character's superior attitude towards K-pop and Korean music makes me want to gag.
“But you think I should make it more like your American music?” he asks.

“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

This book made me rage. I wouldn't recommend it for k-pop fans. I wouldn't recommend it for any kind of light, summery read. It just gave me a headache.

As a side note: it's kind of stupid to rant about a book involving k-pop, so allow me to give myself some credibility. I've been a k-pop fan for a long-ass time. Since before some of your oppas were even born. I started with Shinhwa (and suffered their departure). I loved DBSK (and I witnessed with much heartbreak their departure). I fell in love with EXO (and was absolutely heartbroken at the demise of EXO-M...oh, Luhan...;_;).

There may be a trend here.

In any case, I know my freaking k-pop. I've bopped to H.O.T's Candy, and I danced along to Bonamana. I attempted to do Growl, but only ended up looking like a freakishly incompetent cowboy. I'm well-read on Korean culture. I'm well up-to-date on k-pop current releases, and I consider myself, if not an expert, very, very well-informed on the k-pop scene. Just keep me out of your flame wars. I ain't an ELF, I ain't a Cassie, I ain't a Baby, leave me out of your drama. I'm here for the music.

Since I'm accusing the main character of elements of racism, let me first be fair. Let's address the huge fucking pink elephant in the room. Korean culture, and k-pop, is not innocent when it comes to racism. I am not speaking for all Koreans by any means, and I understand that every culture is guilty of feeling racially superior to some extent, but the k-pop world is peppered with racism, particularly when it comes to darker-skinned races and people.

This denigration of darker-skinned people is not limited to foreigners. Even Koreans who are darker-skinned get mocked (like the beautiful, golden-skinned Kai of EXO, who has been constantly given a hard time for his darker skin tone). SNSD members have mocked a member whose skin is darker, calling her dirty-looking. There are rampant examples in which k-pop idols have dressed up in blackface (and nobody thinks anything of it), and there are numerous examples in which idols have made highly racist statements without any serious repercussion from society whatsoever.

So there you have it. Racism does exist in South Korea, but that's not to say we should emulate it. We should strive to be better. An eye for an eye is not the answer here. You cannot solve racism by being racist in return.

Look, I'm not fucking Mother Theresa. I'm a jerk. So it should say something when I feel like we should maybe try to get along?

Open k-pop discussion in the comments. Go!

Quotes were taken from an uncorrected proof subject to change in the final edition.
Profile Image for Rose.
1,857 reviews1,048 followers
April 30, 2015
Initial reaction:

I'll say this though, in some meditation: I understand that Grace is a young woman who's pretty much a fish out of water in the country of Korea, escaping a really heavy burden that she carries with her from the States, but I do not, I seriously DO NOT, understand her cultural intolerance and put downs of Korean culture and people in this book. It's inexcusable. There's a part of me that wants to think the author intended this to be a flaw of the character, but there are other references in this book that make me think it's more of a championing of Western culture (parroted even by the Korean characters featured in the book) than it is a reflection of Korea.

I know there will be people who love this book for the love story aspect even if they may (or may not) see the problems in the diversity addresses made here, but even that was a little disappointing to me in retrospect. There were definitely some cute moments, and I liked the secondary cast quite a bit. Heck, I liked Jason, but I don't think he deserved the way Grace treated him in this book in modes. I didn't even think Sophie deserved some subtle put downs in this book either.

Grace is a flawed character, and I know we need some representation of flawed personalities in YA literature, but not at the expense of disrespecting an entire country, its culture, and people. It's sloppy handling, and this could've been a better book than what it was.

Full review:

Katie M. Stout's "Hello, I Love You" is a perfect example of why we desperately need more diversity in YA literature. Not for the reason you're thinking though, because honestly, I have never read a more culturally ignorant, presumptuous, and projective (meaning it denounces Korean culture in favor of Americanized or Western ideals) narrative in all of the years I've been reading YA. And there were no rationales or expansions for these attitudes. None whatsoever.

Exploring diversity - whether it's people, places, things that we may not see in our native cultures compared to the culture being introduced - doesn't mean just setting up shop in a different place to mold it into one's own playground, but exploring and appreciating what THAT culture has to offer and seeing its appeal through the eyes of those who live, work, and experience it as it is. To me, this is where Katie Stout screwed this entire narrative for the potential it was to have.

"Hello, I Love You" ended up being one of my biggest disappointments of this year as far as a read is concerned. Not because I had overly high expectations for what it would offer me, but rather what shortchanged and offensive content it gave me. This could've been a much better narrative if it'd kept its focus on the culture itself and had a protagonist that was willing to see it for what it offered despite her grief, rather than using the place and people as a means to an end.

In my final reflections, while I give this narrative 1.5 stars for an overarching rating, that doesn't mean that I'd lend a strong recommendation for it (or even a recommendation at all - cute moments weren't enough to save this narrative from being jarringly offensive). If you are really into something that presents Korean culture, K-pop and idol endeavors in a positive, immersive light, you won't find much of what you're looking for here. This doesn't even give an apt viewpoint for the characters of this culture that it's showing, they're just background noise to suit the heroine and her motives and her coming to terms, more than anything else. I'm not at all confident this is narrative meant to represent a different culture for what it offered and it actually hurts the diversity leaning and aim rather than helping it. This kind of cultural ignorance and blatant use and lose of an environment and population is inexcusable, and not at all cute. I don't doubt there are some people who will like this narrative, but I couldn't in good mind overlook these issues - as someone who loves Korean music and media, different cultures, and also speaking as a woman of color.

Overall score: 1.5/5 stars

Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from St. Martin's Press.


Bonus stuff:

You want some Korean artists/groups/musicians I listen to? Let me share a few with you (at least I thank this book for making me surf YouTube). By no means comprehensive, but they're songs in my head, so:

Clazziquai Project: (I love these guys too much, man)











Lee Soo Young:


Park Hyo Shin:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VslYA... (Honestly, I chose this song because it's one of my favorites and because the relationship in this book reminded me of this. I haven't heard it in a little while.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rqho5... (with Hwang Project)



Super Junior:






SHINHWA: (I'm pretty sure I discovered these guys a long time ago from a Jpop/Kpop music station on Last.fm, back when they still offered a radio service. Have heard their music in passing, but "Sniper" is one of their latest. You guys know how I am about songs getting stuck in my head? Yeah.)


The See Ya:





Rumble Fish:


497 reviews2,419 followers
July 7, 2015
Fair warning: The word "fuck" and other variations will be used constantly in this review. It's necessary, thank you.

I have never, in my entire reading career (humor me, okay?), wanted to reach into a book to strangle a main character as much as I wanted to with this one. Considering my angry girl personality, that's really saying something.

Grace stood out. In the worst fucking way possible. 

So for example, you want to leave your country to attend school elsewhere. Obviously, if you're a normal person, you'd do lots of research before heading there, right? Well, HA. Grace isn't normal. She decides to fly to a boarding school in Korea because it's the first result that popped up in a Google search.

Grace is basically a walking disaster. I'm not even exaggerating anymore. She's:

a.) A fucking hypocrite. If there's anything I hate more than a weak heroine, it's a hypocrite. I've had my fair share of dealing with these people in real life, so I don't want to read about it in books any more, thanks.

b.) A fucking elitist. Okay, so I'm an Asian, and the way Grace looked down on Koreans was really idiotic, childish and unfair. She knew NOTHING about Korea or its culture, and therefore shouldn't be prancing around judging them for every little thing. (Khanh talks more about this aspect in her review.)

c.) A fucking rude snob. I guess she never learned the terms respect and manners back when she was a kid. Also, apparently Koreans don't listen to "normal" music. *snorts*

Now that I finally got that off my chest, let's talk about something else. Ah, the romance. This was another huge disappointment, mind you. I did not get the appeal of Jason AT ALL. Both he and Grace were incredibly hot-and-cold towards each other and they made me want to rip my hair off in frustration! There was ZERO chemistry between them. Plus there's an incredibly unnecessary (a minor one, but unnecessary nonetheless) love triangle... Ick.

None of the characters appealed to me. They were all annoying as fuck, really. You know those extremely preppy and bouncy characters who seem fake? Yeah, we have one of those characters here. Also the "quiet guy" and the guy who listens but is never given a chance by the heroine... Stereotypes. Annoying stereotypes.

Also, if you're going into this book looking to learn more about Korea or K-Pop... Move along elsewhere, because this book will not tell you anything you didn't already know. Neither of the two was explored with any sort of depth and was sort of just there for the sake of it.

In fact, if it wasn't explicitly stated that this book was taking place in Korea, you can pretty much put any country in the "____ Boarding School" title.

And did this book even have ANY K-Pop? Sure, the boys were part of a K-Pop band, but were they ever singing or composing songs with Korean lyrics? Hell no. I forgot that this book was supposed to even have K-Pop in it.

If you're looking for something diverse, this isn't it. Grace is in Korea, but she basically only talks to people who speak English. She complains constantly about no one wanting to talk to her, but she doesn't even bother approaching them, basically turning this book into your typical YA contemporary drama.

I wouldn't recommend this to anyone looking to get immersed in the Korean culture, or someone who's interested in a heroine's journey to discover Korean music and romance. Although if you're a brave soul and feel like this book might be for you... Be my guest.

Deadly Darlings | The Social Potato | The Book Geek | Twitter | Instagram
589 reviews1,031 followers
July 22, 2015
See more reviews at YA Midnight Reads

Hello, I hate you. Goodbye. *slams door in book's face*

If you want a novel with (a proper representation of) Korean culture mixed with ultimate cuteness and likeable characters, I suggest you turn around and leave right now. Why? Because this has none of that. Sure, there are a few cute moments... but then the book takes it a step too far which results it coming off as cheesy and cliche. However, the main reason of this was because of how unlikeable the main character, Grace, is. She's a music snob, completely ignorant of the Korean culture, rude, insensitive and awfully judgemental. Anymore synonyms for just a total jerk face? I swear, everything that comes out of her mouth has to be an insult to either: the Korean culture, the guy she likes, her own goddamn family etc.

Let's take this for example, where the main character (I forgot her name already) is in class learning about the formality rules in the Korean culture:

“Why are there so many different levels of formality?” I ask Jason, praying he’s feeling gracious. “I don’t get it.”

“It has to do with respect,” he says, shocking me. “You want to give respect to people who have authority over you or are older.”

“Okay, I get that, but seven levels? Really?”

He doesn’t answer.

“It’s dumb” pops out of my mouth before I can stop it, and I mentally kick myself.

Seriously?? I just. What. No.

And let's not forget how the novel reads as if it's spoon feeding the reader all the information, and constantly stating the obvious. Ugh. I mean, I'M NOT STUPID OKAY, I CAN DRAW SIMPLE CONCLUSIONS MYSELF THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

On second thought, maybe I am stupid because I picked this book up. WHY, MEL, WHY?!

If you want to read something that has a similar idea to Hello, I Love You but is actually decent, try Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins instead. Unlike this book, we get a proper representation of the culture in which the MC is travelling to.


Profile Image for Danielle (Love at First Page).
726 reviews621 followers
June 4, 2015
DNF @ 20% + some skimming.

The main character is an embarrassment. I was cringing all over the place.
She travels to South Korea of her own volition (because she wants to run away, and it was the first country that popped up on a Google search for international schooling), yet is ill-equipped for even the slightest cultural differences. She didn't bother to learn anything about her new home. What else? Let me count the ways.
She is judgmental.
She is ungracious.
She is a music snob.
She is hypocritical.
She wouldn't know empathy if it bit her in the ass.
As Kirus Reviews so aptly says, she is "shockingly insensitive".

Maybe Grace (yes, that is her name, which is not so apt) learns to grow up, but I didn't want to stick around to find out. I skimmed ahead for the romance a bit, to see if that would spark my interest, but I didn't like what I was reading there either. Total dud.

I might add some example quotes later, if I feel like it. But this is sadly a no-go for me. So disappointed! :(

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for approving my request in exchange for my honest thoughts.
Profile Image for Vanessa J..
347 reviews597 followers
July 21, 2015
Brace yourselves because this is going to be a long review.

I read this book for one reason and one reason alone: The controversy it's causing. Not because at the beginning (a couple of months ago, before the reviews started to appear) it seemed like a diverse book, or because the synopsis intrigued me (please, you know I hate to read romance). So now I'm going to review it in two parts: One is the “actual” review, and the other is a list of quotes and what I have to say about them.

Part 1: Review of the book.

Grace Wilde goes to South Korea escaping from her millionaire parents. There, the last thing she expects is to fall in love – and less even with the Korean superstar Jason.

If we talk about the writing, I'll tell you it's bad. It's not terrible, but neither is it good nor decent. For example, there's a line at the beginning where she meets Jason and she says something like “He's the hottest boy I've ever seen,” and just that. She does not describe him, she just says he's hot. Don't we deserve a description? How are we supposed to imagine him?

The plot is predictable as hell, and it's boring. Maybe the second aspect comes because I get bored by romance, but either way, it was boring, and cheesy, and cliched.

Characterization was bad too. We never really get to know neither of the characters. First, we don't know how they look, and then, they don't have personality? Ugh.

Also, why does the MC's name have to be Grace Wilde? She doesn't deserve it.

That's all I will say for the “actual review.” Now, let's continue with the quotes.

Part 2: Quotes said by Grace and my responses to her.

I go through the entire periodic table of elements three times, the repetition numbing my brain and slowing my pulse, emptying my mind of any anxiety. My AP chemistry teacher taught me the trick, told me it helped him calm down. I discovered this summer that it works for me, too.

Who recites the periodic table to calm down the nerves? Loooooool. I'm a chemist and I don't do that! Does Stout think that just because someone studies chemistry, then he/she is supposed to think about chemistry all time? Haha, you're wrong.

I still have no idea why I decided we needed an entire ocean between us or why I even chose Korea—it was just the first place that popped up on Google when I typed in “international boarding schools,” probably thanks to Jane’s search history, since I’m not the only one who considered getting out of Tennessee.

What?!?! Korea is not even the first result to appear. I googled the same words, and what appeared to me was the UK, not Korea.

Does that mean people play music here? I mean, normal music, like rock or hip-hop or folk. Or is it only traditional Korean stuff?

What the hell does she think Korea is? Look, I know absolutely nothing about Korean culture or Asian culture in general, but that? That's just plain stupid and xenophobic.

So I’m thinking about studying chemistry in college—basically, the furthest thing from music you can get. Of course, it helps that balancing chemical equations and performing experiments that could potentially blow up the lab rings my bell.

That's one of the stupidest decisions she will ever make. If she's choosing chemistry because she can balance some ecuations and because it's the furthest thing she can find from music, she will flunk. Ha! You need to know more than how to balance ecuations to be studying chemistry, honey.

I’ve never liked listening to music in a different language or watching movies with subtitles. Why would anyone listen to something they can’t understand?

I do. I love watching movies in their original language with subtitles. Grace is so freaking ignorant. She just wants everything to be American. She goes to Korea but refuses to watch the Korean shows, she refuses to accept Kpop as actual music, and she refuses to eat Korean food – all she wants is English, rock, hip hop and pizza.

Well, if you really want to know, I think you guys have talent, but it’s wasted on empty songs. Your music is clean but conventional, nothing that can’t be produced by any wannabe with a guitar and Garage Band. I’m guessing that if you guys are famous like Sophie said, it’s mostly based on pretty faces instead of actual quality of music.

The fuck? First, she doesn't accept Kpop as “normal” music, and then she insults it saying their songs are empty?!?! Fuck you, Grace. Fuck. You.

You’ll need to be more culturally intelligent if you want to live here.

That's actually something Jason said to Grace when she insulted (one of the many times) his culture. But I have to correct him: You need to be more intelligent to live anywhere.

A million protestations build in my throat, but I don’t let them out, afraid of being that girl, the whiny American who can’t cope with a new place and new culture.

Well, I'm afraid to tell you that you actually are that girl. I'm not American, but I believe this book makes Americans look really bad.

It may seem hard to believe, but I’m actually sort of transitioning into life here in Korea, although I do miss sweet tea and Southern boys who hold doors open for you.

What's that supposed to mean?

Anyone would sound smart to you. You don’t know anything about languages besides English.

Another thing said by Jason, and I cannot agree more. What I fail to understand is how he could fall for that monstrous girl.

Yeah, well, I can’t really see why people like Korean boy bands (...)

I can't really see why people like cats, but I don't insult them.

You know what?

If you're looking for a diverse book about a culture not seen a lot in YA books, then this is not for you. If you are, on the other hand, looking for a book that not only portrays in an ignorant way Korean culture, but it mocks it too, then this is just for you. Also, if Anna and the French Kiss is as xenophobic and ignorant as this, then you can consider that book deleted from my TBR.

One last thing: If you're still doubting whether to pick this book or not, I suggest reading Khanh's review, Rose's review and the negative Kirkus review this got.



Forget about The Queen of the Tearling. This is the strongest contender for the worst book of 2015. And yeah, I read the entire shit in 3 hours, without skimming.

Review to come. It's midnight here and I have to rest my eyes.

P.S.: Why does the MC's name have to be Grace Wilde?

P.P.S.: Who the hell recites the periodic table to calm down their nerves? For fuck's sake, I'm a chemist and I don't do that!

P.P.P.S.: This is the most racist book I've read.
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,014 reviews1,050 followers
October 5, 2016

I did see Goodreads’ average rating for the book but that did not stop me from reading it because the cover is just too cute and considering that I already have the book on hand, I thought why not just read it? Whilst I wasn’t completing regretting that decision, the book didn’t really do anything much for me. At best, it was a cute, but generally just okay read.

I recognize that this is Ms. Katie Stout’s debut novel and for that, I do think she deserves a certain amount of acknowledgement especially for choosing to venture out of the common YA romance plot through exploring a different scenery by setting it up in Korea. I think the setting and consequently the Korean characters are what made the entire story interesting.

But had the characters been more fleshed out, made more believable, the plot researched a bit more, the narrative and the dialogues more reader sensitive, the story would have fared more than just okay. It probably didn’t help that the story is narrated by the main character, Grace, who is a bit too self occupied to be readily perceptive of how other people (particularly the readers) would take her train of thoughts. Being in her head too long (well I guess not that long because the book took less than 300 pages to finish), the story came across a bit slow and monotonous. Still, it could be an entertaining read if you take it really lightly. ;)
Profile Image for Faye, la Patata.
492 reviews2,109 followers
Shelved as 'will-not-read'
June 5, 2015
A white American girl goes to Korea because it popped first in her Google search for international boarding school and disses every aspect of its culture?

Not only is this book inconsistent with its facts, it is apparently offensive as well.

It even got a negative Kirkus review. Faaaail. FAAAAAAAIL.

I may not have loved Ink by Amanda Sun (American girl arriving in Japan), but read that instead. At least that one respects the host country's culture.
Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,089 reviews6,595 followers
July 8, 2015
This book sounded so promising! It has been compared to Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins except set in Korea and features a hot KPOP star! UMM SIGN ME UP! But unfortunately, I was really disappointed with this book. The idea was so great and had just enough originality to separate itself from Anna and the French Kiss, but essentially, a quite few things let it down for me.
Firstly, I found the main character to be EXTREMELY unlikeable. She was rude, really nosey, judgmental, a little bit racist and extremely insensitive. She was so horrible to her new friends' brother and it wasn't even for a good reason! She would just straight up insult him just because he wasn't paying her the amount of attention she wanted. She also complained a lot and insisted on asking really personal questions to these people she hardly knew, in a blunt and insensitive manner. I just couldn't find any redeeming qualities about her to be honest. She did start to get better towards the end of the book, but I just really didn't like her.
Another thing I really didn't like (and is something that I have seen in quite a few YA novels) is that she purposefully lied to Jason and said that she basically didn't give a rats arse about him (when she clearly did). WHY HIDE YOUR FEELINGS? OR IF YOU MUST HIDE THEM, AT LEAST DO IT WITHOUT HURTING THE OTHER PERSON BY INSULTING THEM. It just didn't make any sense.
I also feel like even though KPOP and Korea are super important parts of the story, they weren't explored hardly enough. I honestly struggled to picture Korea just from the descriptions in the book and found myself googling what it looks like and I would've loved to delve further into KPOP but it's only briefly mentioned here and there.
I definitely wanted more of a backstory on other characters such as Yoon Jae. And I'm sad that what happened with Sophie and Tae Hwa?? I wanted more of a resolution with them!
The things that I really enjoyed about the book were definitely the supporting characters, especially Sophie. She was so cute and fun and a lovely person to read about, in contrast to our main character, who acted like a spoiled brat the majority of the time. I also thought that there were definitely some really cute parts of the book, but I definitely wanted more of them!
Overall, I would recommend this for a light and fluffy contemporary, but keep in mind that it has a really frustrating main character and lacks some other elements that I mentioned above.
I gave this 1.5 stars!
Profile Image for shady boots.
500 reviews2,040 followers
December 19, 2014

Gurl. This sounds to me like it's specifically made to fulfill the fantasies of certain hormonal young K-POP fans. But, I suppose I could give it the benefit of the doubt. Ish.
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,363 followers
February 14, 2015
A sweet, feel-good kind of read, Hello, I Love You transported me to Korea with its highly descriptive and atmospheric writing.

I had a good time reading this novel, the romance is cute and full of chemistry, buuuut (you knew it was coming) the hot and cold nature of their relationship for a good 90% of the book does get frustrating. Even though Grace ends up having a reason behind her inability to trust and open up her heart, I couldn't help but find myself annoyed at her sudden bursts of coldness. She was so blind by what transpired in her past - which we only find out about at the very end - that she becomes this cold-hearted bitch every time they actually start to get close. She should have given him credit just to stick around after these mood-swings, but no, he drank once or twice so he's bound to become just like her brother… So yeah, the romance and I had a love-hate relationship. When they were happy and finally getting along I loved it - their chemistry is undeniable and he is simply adorable, if a bit broken - but then she would turn around in the blink of an eye and ruin it all!

While I didn't dislike Grace per se, I absolutely loved the secondary characters. Her roommate Sophie is a blast - energetic, funny, and a wonderful friend. Jason's bandmates are also full of charisma and personality. I even loved her sister, Jane, even though she barely makes an appearance in the book. It's obvious the author knows how to build a cast full of memorable characters who all add a little something extra to the novel. There's also an emotional layer that surfaces towards the end. It's something I did not expect and comes with quite the tear-jerker of a baggage. It also explains Grace's state of mind (better late than never, but still late enough that annoyance towards her is to be expected).

Now, Korea; I have never been, nor am I a listener of KPOP, so I can't vouch for how accurately it may or may not depict it all, but I found myself charmed by the boarding school, the cities, the streets, the culture, the crowds - I became enchanted by it all. Especially when you add in the dazzle of music and fame. I love when an author is able to transport me to a new country and make me feel as if I was the one walking the streets, experiencing the culture. Accurate or not, the setting is believable and well-utilized throughout.

A foreign country, a slow-burning romance, a plot that includes friendship, family, and a dash of secrecy - Hello, I Love You is an easily enjoyable story. I would recommend it to fans of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and Anna and the French Kiss.

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for Morel Dei.
164 reviews30 followers
Want to read
December 18, 2014
This better be as legendary as the K-Pop adventures of the one and only Park Sakura Lopez... or I ain't even gonna bother!


The fan culture in Korea is crazy, so how would they even manage to date and all those jazz with Dispatch paps and sasaeng fans (possibly)around? The dude's said to be extremely famous, so stalker fans are bound to exist.
And most important of all: Is Jason supposed to be the guy's idol name as well? It's so basic like T.O.P's supposed stage name, Mark. lol
Profile Image for Brittain *Needs a Nap and a Drink*.
373 reviews440 followers
May 8, 2015

ARC received in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley.

If you know me, you know I love KPop. And I was so flipping pumped when I got approved for this book. But then the negative reviews started and I got a little bit apprehensive about it. But I charged ahead and I read this book anyways. Let's just say that the negative reviews are well deserved.

I'm just going to come out and say it: Grace is a ridiculous spoiled brat of a bitch. She's blonde, skinny, pretty, and is a princess in the music industry. She can't sing or play instruments but she's *awesome* at composing and is fantastic at everything. Can you be any more of a Mary Sue?

She has trust and panic issues but it isn't really enough to make her relatable as a character. I wish someone in the book would have told her to lay off and actually be respectful of Korean culture and her friends but that never happens.

Grace repeatedly bashes Korean culture and shows such American elitism it made me want to gag.

"So people do play Western music"

She never really makes an attempt to dive in headfirst and opts to complain about everything that they do in Korea. Women wear skirts during winter? *Judgement* Girls are skinnier than her? *Judgement* They like to listen to bubbly pop music? *EXCESSIVE JUDGEMENT*

"I’m not sure what I expected--that they would be good? Pop is in the name of the genre. That never bodes well for the quality of the music. But I guess I’d hoped since they’re a big deal, they would be more than your average bubblegum band. After ten songs, my brain is ready to explode."

Get off your high horse. You sound like a baby. And it's not that I don't like her music taste. It's actually pretty good stuff in my opinion. But there's no need to be that person that judges everybody based off of what they are playing and listening to.

I guess that out of everything about Grace that bothers me, the worst is her obvious disdain for everything that she hasn't been exposed to.

Moving on now to some other flagrant flaws in this book.

Jason doesn't have any real personality to me. One second, he is cold and removed and then he is apologizing. This author started with what could have been a strong character in him but seemed to sort of give up and try to make him nice. I liked how he pushed Grace and made her lose her cool. Jason clearly just didn't care and that was part of his character and all of that changes very quickly. He turns from outwardly aggressive to making snide comments and trying to push everybody away.

Sophie is obnoxious as well. I can understand hiding a relationship with your brother's best friend from him just so it doesn't get awkward, but don't sneak around and act like nothing is going on and lie to your roommate. Everybody knows. Just be honest. You ain't foolin' no one.

Honestly, out of all the characters, I liked Yoon Jae the most. He came closest to what I expected out of a book about KPop and he is thrown under the bus as far as character development goes. Everybody treated him like he was the one that caused the tension but really, he was just as unhappy as Tae Hwa and Jason in the band. Doesn't anybody else consider his dreams too? Yoon Jae could have grown so much more and could have competed a bit more for Grace but he is one of the most passive characters I've ever encountered.

It's telling when your favorite character is a secondary character that has little to no personality. But hey, he danced and he sang and he was what I wanted when it came to a Korean star.

The plot was rather weak as well (now that I've raged about the characters). Grace helps Jason with a music project and somehow ends up being her Korean tutor despite not being able to read Korean. And then later, magically, he can write in Korean. It doesn't make sense. Sophie drags Grace around the country following the guys like a groupie and it came off as desperate. Yes, you're there to support your brother but it's borderline stalker for the guy in the group you like. It seemed awkward and forced.

Ugh...sorry for the rage filled review. When I hate a book, I always find I have a lot more to say about it. I wanted sexy KPop. I got a little bit of drama and a whole lot of whining. Whatever, I'm over it. Crash and burn.

So this book definitely deserves the negative reviews. It portrays Americans as elitist and self centered. It barely shows any of the Korean culture. The main character is a complete bitch and her love interest is so contrived it's ridiculous.

If you want to watch a drama that has some similar themes, watch Heartstrings. It's on Hulu and accomplishes what this book was trying to do.

Full review can be found at Tara Belle Talking
Profile Image for Elaine.
347 reviews224 followers
Shelved as 'nope'
March 15, 2014
K-Pop. In. YA.

When fandoms collide.
I'll be keeping a close eye on this one with my fingers crossed.
Profile Image for Jess.
443 reviews595 followers
July 9, 2019
I'm posted a quarter of a review I wrote back in 2015, which I never finished because I was really angry at the time and I had book marked too much to rant about and then became overwhelmed and stopped. You know, personal health first. It's now 2019 and I don't remember much except to say I didn't like this book.

I’d consider myself a sentimental person. I am. And one mood I love get into is nostalgia—you know, take a trip back to the roots and all (not an origin story, although I suppose you could say it made me the person I am today—completely cynical about everything). Let’s flash it back six or so years. The turning point in my youth. Somehow, although I’m not entirely surprised, I fell into something that was utterly soul consuming—as well as time and data memory (do you know how many extra hard-drives I had on hand?) K P oP. Korean music, and what is considering the height of the “halllyu wave” too. If you’re not familiar, and for the context of the book in question, kpop differentiates from western music in that it is a culture. And I’m afraid to say it, but for some people, a religion (check what constitutes a religion). Now the following view, for those who are still fans, could be slightly skewered coming from someone who has experienced the heart of the beast and is now objectively looking back as a person on the other side of the glass. Kpop is about theatrics. You don’t simply get up with a rocking voice and expect to blow up. You dance. You overemphasise one element of your personality (or sadly for some, you undertake a new personality) and you work on your variety skills. You dress according to society’s fashion standards. You apply your makeup, no gender exclusions, according to society’s beauty standards. You diet, maintain your weight or if you’re blessed and want to go that extra mile, you hit the gym for some six packs to show off at your concert, in order to appease society’s standards. It’s this manufactured you (may that be one element or all elements, no shame, no judgment) in accordance with a rocking voice (although optional) or a feel for a rapping and the ability to crank out some dance moves (or in general, ability to sway in beat with the music) and you do what it takes to worm your way into the public’s heart (because they’re paying for your company’s investment and your future). Lucky for most, you’re most likely to have 3+ members in your band/group to share the load with. There’s a process behind it all. Hello, I Love You, for me, was meant to explore the whole market behind “idols”. Be that an ode to the music, an exposition of its “dark side”, or just an insight/portrayal of the whole movement, coupled with a cute love story of course (because kids, let’s not forget YA’s unspoken romance requirement). But of course, we get ignorant protagonist who left me feeling quite insulted, a fairytale-d portrayal of the kpop system, no adult supervision, money bags falling from the sky and the dullest romance yet. God, I would’ve contemplated trading half a kidney for a semi-scandalous love affair if it meant I didn’t have to suffer through this snoozefest.

Let’s do this review in sections. It’s much easier on the brain if we chuckle at this book in an organised manner.

The storyline and your ignorant “white is right” (although to be fair, this is not a quote from the book but a reference to modern family) mentality or more commonly known as “white superiority” attitude.

On the veneer it seems like a harmless and fun storyline. Girl travels to South Korea, bums at a boarding school, exchanges banter and has sizzling chemistry with a kpop idol who, by the odds of a million dollar lottery winner, just happens to be laying low at her school. It’s completely sweet, cute and unrealistic. An escape the harsh realities of the world kind of read. But then you see all the adjectives hidden between the sentences and it’s becomes one big cringe fest. The unmemorable protagonist who goes by the name Grace (just to give you a gist of her impact, I’ve only added in her name to this review as the final touch as I could not for the life of me conjure her identity). And howdy ho (sorry, that’s stereotypical of me and in the context of this review, highly hypocritical) she’s the daughter of a famous country (welcome to Nashville) record producer who’s sick of her family, reality and it’s pressures and so decides to…skip town, and over the sea while she’s at it, in order to hide out in a boarding school in South Korea. But kids, don’t worry, it’s a top notch boarding school for the rich (think the set of Boys Before Flowers) kids of Korea and expat/diplomatic children (#oldmoney v #newmoney) located in a city (think chic country side because you need land to educate these kids with comfort) far from the bustle (paparazzi of Seoul) but close enough to the city of lights for them to drive into town to go (underage) clubbing. Grace chooses her teenage rebellion hideout country by quite literally utilising google (at least she’s not using bingle) typing in “international boarding schools” and picking top choice.

----2015 original---
On one hand, it's an addictive book for a fan of kpop, I suppose. On the other, I am severely insulted. Consider me fuming and watch this space for an in-depth review.


THIS IS DIFFERENT AND I WANT. It's like a homage to my kpop loving days.
Profile Image for Mary.
511 reviews94 followers
June 9, 2015
"I'm guessing that if you guys are famous like Sophie said, it's mostly based on pretty faces instead of actual quality of music."

My rage would not stop me from turning the pages so that I could write my thoughts. Please excuse any grammatical errors-my mind can't even think right now it's so bad.

If you love Kpop, other cultures, hate racist characters, and want a very well done book about a girl who moves to Korea and gets involved with a hot guy and the Kpop industry...please look elsewhere. I hate giving author's bad reviews. They pour their hearts into writing, but sometimes it has to be done.

I am sorry to say that like many others who were so excited about a book like this being published, that this book did not make me happy. I LOVE Kpop! I love reading about other cultures and experiencing the beauty of another culture with our main character...Grace was not the character for this role. I do not tolerate racism at all, so to read about a main character who had her head so stuck in her own little vision of how the entire world should behave sickened me. Yes, she is a teen, but she is still racist. I have provided some lovely quotes for you later on if you would like to see them.

Let me begin by saying I really am glad that Kpop is getting more recognition and that the author is a really good writer. However, what she wrote offended me.There were a few good things about this book: The other characters besides our main were likable and had a lot of good to say regarding our main character's racist views on Korea. The writing was well done, and this is about Kpop! That's where the good ends.

Our main character, Grace, is a girl who like many, is going through some tough times. To escape these troubles she literally googles a place to move and when she finds Korea she just leaves. She doesn't research anything about the country!!!! And then she begins trashing the Korean culture and trying to force her American ways onto Korea. At first I thought this was a flaw in her character and that she would overcome her mindset and embrace another culture...she did not. To make matters worse, she says a LOT of racist things that I could not believe what I was reading. I want to say that the author was trying to make this a coming of age YA romance, but Grace never matured.

She attends a boarding school and obviously being in another country, they would not speak English!! (Or at least, not everyone since English is taught in school.) Grace cannot believe that there is another writing system other than the alphabet and that Korean [people can read them. The romance was cute at times (which were seldom), but Grace was unbelievable. She chastises Jason-the love interest-for liking Kpop, calls Kpop a fad and refuses to say anything positive about it.

Actual quotes to prove my point about Grace's racist thoughts: "I can't help but notice the obnoxiously neon READY TO WHERE splayed across her shirt, and I wonder if she thought it was ironic or if this girl has zero concept of the English language."

"As we head to the dorms, I think back to meeting Sophie's brother this morning. He said something about a band room. Does that mean people play music here? I mean, normal music, like rap or hip-hop or folk. Or is it only traditional Korean stuff?"

"I'm not sure what I expected-that they would be good? Pop is the name of the genre. That never bodes well for the quality of the music. But I guess I hoped since they're a big deal, they would be more than your average bubblegum band."

Grace refuses to acknowledge that any other music besides American music is a thing. She trashes Kpop and mocks it and refuses to adapt to Korea. And get this: Grace is supposed to know a lot about all kinds of music. Yep. Which is why she doesn't think Kpop is music and that all Asian music is just traditional....

Not only that, but Grace tries to correct Jason and his band that his music is not American and therefore, not good. If they would only play American music, then they would be hits!!!! Too bad Kpop is a huge thing Grace, because your point is invalid. All music is to be appreciated and if it is not the music you listen to, then try and respect it at the least!!! Jason even yells at Grace and tells her to try and be more sensitive about other cultures! This is why I don't think the author intended to make a racist main character. Yet Grace never grows out of her viewpoints. And Grace takes his advice as an offense. She thinks that what Jason was telling her was that she needed to stop parading America around...are you kidding me?

For us k and j-drama fans, Grace once again lends her opinions on the subject. She made me insanely mad. Naturally, getting used to a foreign culture is shocking, but Grace handled it terribly. She criticizes Korean food, the drama, the music, the language, everything that is NOT American. Girl, you signed up for a foreign country...what did you honestly expect?

All in all, I really did not enjoy this book. I was so excited to hear a book about Kpop was being published. And then I get Grace and her unbelievable perspective. I wanted a book where a young woman explores another country and comes to embrace it. Instead, I got a book with a racist, closeminded, "white savior wannabe", stereotyping, white girl. As a white girl myself who really appreciates other cultures and loves Kpop and dramas, etc. I was livid. And it was not just because the book dissed Korea. No. This book made me extremely mad. Racism is a terrible thing that should not exist but sadly does. And Grace not only starts out racist, but she ends the book without having changed.

I am very sorry if you love Korean culture, or other cultures and dislike racism. If you are one of those people, you might be very angry at the many things Grace says during this book. The only saving grace was the secondary cast who got mad at Grace and tried to get her to adjust her mindset-which never happened-and the writing. Some might be able to look past these ugly things, and I hope that if you still give this book a chance that you find it much more enjoyable than I did. If you're unsure, maybe try the library. I cannot recommend this book.
Profile Image for Nara.
937 reviews124 followers
June 11, 2015
So the first thing you need to know before I get into this review is that I'm a Korean. I speak Korean at home, and although I live in Australia, I've visited South Korea several times.

The second thing you need to know is that if you want to know more about Korea, this book should not be your source of information. To be frank, a lot of it is just plain wrong. Let me show you some examples of this complete ignorance of Korean culture.

It surprises me what foods I crave when all I get is rice and vegetables...and more rice.
What the heck. Koreans eat more than just rice and vegetables. Like samgyetang and tteokbokki and jajangmyeon and naengmyeon just to name a couple (all foods linked to Google images. You're welcome. Although now I'm really hungry...)

Plus in terms of the language itself, I picked up on quite a few errors. Firstly, some of the romanisations were pretty atrocious. Korean is hard enough to pronounce without an author butchering the romanisations. To give an example, the word for "really?" in Korean is 진짜. It's pronounced like "jinjja" with the double j approaching a "ch" sound (see, super difficult to explain in writing...). In the book it's written as "jinja". Heck no, you'd be laughed at if you said it like that.

The other thing is, one of the supposedly Korean characters incorrectly explained the way the language works.
"The symbols represent the pronunciation of one syllable, as opposed to English, where each character or symbol represents one sound."
So this is wrong because each character is one sound- it's just that you can combine them in different ways to get different syllables. Unlike Japanese, where each character is a syllable. Also, main character Grace finds Korean the most difficult thing to read, ever, and that's just stupid, because it's actually a really straightforward alphabet. It's not like Chinese where you have to learn a billion characters.

And then yet another mistake the author makes is this:
"Ahn nyoung ha seh yoh,", I say, not sure if they speak Korean or a local dialect.
Siggghhhhh. Firstly, "local dialects" are still Korean. Secondly, local dialects in Korea are basically like an accent- Australian, American, British. They're all the same language with some small differences in certain words. The word for hello (which is what Grace says in the line above) is the same all over Korea.

I might have been slightly more forgiving about this (maybe...) if this wasn't then followed by an atrocious grammatical error where another supposedly Korean character conjugates an adjective incorrectly.

Clearly, the author doesn't understand how the kpop industry works, either. There's no way that a high profile kpop star could go out drinking by himself and not get swarmed by fans. There's a very low chance that the Korean media wouldn't be able to find out where high profile stars go to school. There are usually strict rules on dating set by entertainment companies. Do some fucking research.

Okay, so this review just turned into a rant about how the author got so much wrong about Korea. I should probably write about the plot and things.

The main character, Grace, is one of the worst protagonists I've encountered in YA. She's basically a huge snob- judging everything and everyone in Korea, hating on kpop, being a spoiled brat in general. Even though she's in a boarding school in a new country, she seems to hate everything about the culture- the food, the language (heaven forbid there be different levels of formality in the language! Not like there aren't different levels in English #sarcasm), the music. I mean, okay, I get that it's difficult and you're escaping your problems back in America, but that's no excuse. If you don't like the place that much, why not go to Canada, or Australia, or England? I feel like you'd achieve the same thing without having to go through the trouble of learning a new language. I mean, just look at this:
Call me antisocial, but in my defense, it's hard to make friends with people who refuse to speak your language outside the classroom.
You do realise that most people don't "refuse" to speak to you. If you tried, I'm pretty sure they'd speak back. Plus if you're going to stay in Korea long term, why don't you try and actually learn the language?

The plot isn't particularly compelling either. The romance is completely chaotic, with the characters wildly swinging from hating to liking then back to hating. There's just no development, apart from the characters basically being "oh, I actually liked you. I just pretended to hate you".

Pretty much the only reason this book isn't getting a lower rating is because the story wasn't bad enough that I wanted to stop reading. It just wasn't good enough that I liked it.

Overall: 3/10
Plot: 2/5
Romance: 2.5/5
Writing: 2/5
Characters: 2/5
Cover: 3/5
Profile Image for Alexa.
784 reviews
September 6, 2016
2.5 stars

I flew through this, which I mostly attribute to my being in the mood for a fluffy, uncomplicated contemporary like this. Technically, I really shouldn't have liked this because it was peppered with almost every cliché in the book but somehow, I ended up quite enjoying it. Sure, it was really silly most of the time, but I needed something like this. Yes, it was also quite problematic because of its, again, heteronormativity and most of all, its white superiority complex, but I'm willing to let it slide because, honestly ... it's a stupid book about a stupid romance. It could have handled these issues way more gracefully, yes, but I'm not going to take this novel too seriously anyway.

Almost sounds like this book was written by a Tumblr user.
Profile Image for Rashika (is tired).
976 reviews713 followers
June 20, 2015
***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato

The only reason this book wasn't a nightmare for me was because it was strangely addictive and it was more comically bad (in my opinion), than rage-worthy bad.

Grace is a young, rich, privileged, lady who chose to go to a boarding school in South Korea because she wants to get away from home. Then she proceeds to complain about all the things in Korea that are not up to her standards and how she misses home. Now, I understand cultural shock. Believe me, I do. But I have no sympathy for Grace. Especially since she chose to go to South Korea. If she was going to be so whiny, I would have advised her to choose a location more like the UK or Australia so could be far from home and not have to deal with language barriers and other cultural barriers. She does get a little better over the course of the book, but never enough for me to truly like her or feel bad for her.

Her love interest is also a douche. Talk about moody bad boy. Who even likes moody boys these days? (I am sorry if you do! I don't mean to offend you!) I don’t like moody. I don’t like boys who cannot make their mind up about whether or not they like a girl. And I certainly do not like boys who are assholes to girls they supposedly like. Jason does get better over the course of the novel but I never felt it. Why couldn’t he just be nice without, you know, having to fall in love to be nice? Wouldn’t that be nice?

Their relationship is also just weird and I never really understood that progression. Suddenly they were bffs and I never even saw them have any real conversations except for when they talked about music!

Let’s not even talk about all the ways this book can be offensive. That would be opening a can of worms I do not want to get into. Especially since it really just depends on who the reader is and how they interpret the way things are being said.

This is a book I’d recommend only to readers who are willing to overlook pretentious main characters (who admittedly do get better over the course of the book), asshole love interests and some clichés.

To conclude this review, I’d like to quote something my favorite character in the book said about American money.

“All the bills are the same color and have old white men on them.”

Profile Image for Kath S.
354 reviews250 followers
Shelved as 'lost-interest'
July 10, 2015
Estaba tan emocionada por este libro...

Pero ya no.

Hello, I Love You by Katie M. Stout seems coldly calculated to offend and insult. It is racist, poorly written, and inexplicably plotted. Its understanding of Korea seems to be derived from watching Boys Over Flowers and like, two Kpop videos.

Reseña de Beyond Hallyu

Todas las reseñas de este libro me dicen que me aleje de él, y creo que por primera vez esta vez les haré caso.


Profile Image for Molly.
342 reviews127 followers
June 18, 2015

Rating 1.5

White girl from Nashville moves to South Korea, meets the lead singer of a popular K-pop band and falls in love...

Hmph, ... cute love story ... exploring cultural diversity?


You. Wish.

Reading the short blurb for this book, are you thinking of picking it up because:

a) You want some shallow fluffy read.

b) You read the story unfolds in South Korea, and you'd love to know more about it's culture.

c) You love Korean culture, you watch a lot of Korean dramas and movies, you listen a lot of K-pop, and why not you enjoy their variety programs too (like me).

If your answer is A ... go ahead and try the book. You may like it or not depending on how much shallow you like your read to be.

If your answer is B or C.... my suggestion is to steer away from it, unless you want to end (if you have chosen B) disappointed or (if you have answered C) pissed off.

I knew something felt off already in one of the first paragraphs (thirty minutes since her arrival in Korea)...

"I’m one of two Westerners leaving the airport station, and basically everyone besides me is on their phone. Except for that couple a few feet away, who manage to canoodle in the microscopic-size standing room, whispering to each other in Korean."

... maybe they should have whispered in Spanish or *gasp* for your sake in English. You ARE in Korea, duh.

Long story short (or not that short when I start ranting) ... Grace (the name does NOT reflect her character) breaks up with her (of course cheating) boyfriend and to put some distance between him and herself, decides to leave her elite prep school, depart Nashville (and the US) and applies for a boarding school in South Korea (Because in the US there's only one school??). Why South Korea, you ask? Because she has a close friend of Korean descent? Because she always wanted to learn the Korean language? She loves adventure, and a challenge? She loves K-pop and K-dramas? Or at least, LOL ... like in the Korean drama adaptation of Hanakimi, she is a little nutty and decides to help her idol break free from his existential crisis by cross-dressing and enrolling in his school to be his roommate and future love interest?

Well none of the above ...

"it was just the first place that popped up on Google when I typed in “international boarding schools,” "

Grace is a rich, spoiled music snob, rude, insensitive and judgmental at the beginning.... and she DOESN'T change. She doesn't want to learn nothing about Korea. HER culture is superior to the Korean one. She is not the kind that enjoys or wonder about cultural diversity, in fact ... why doesn't this country try and be more like her own. She will do her part to improve something at least...

Grace comes from a a family that is at the top of the US music industry ... and she will as-God-is-her-witness
help her poor ignorant K-pop star new boyfriend to shine and with him improve the whole K-pop industry... that she will.




South Korea is not a perfect country (show me one). I'm not blinded because of my love for it's culture, cuisine, music, dramas and movies.. I watch their news too when I have a chance. They have their share of social issues,... (Whose country doesn't?) but with the mentality of "mine (culture)is better than yours", Grace is one of the most odious written main character I encountered of lately.

I'll stop here, because just writing about it gives me indigestion.

What I learned from this experience:

Sometimes you should read the one star ratings (from friends and people you follow) BEFORE reading a book.
Profile Image for Chelsey Connor.
299 reviews117 followers
May 10, 2017
My heart is so happy after reading this book. I loved seeing Grace and Jason's relationship grow from not being able to stand each other to love. There were times I was frustrates at Grace cos I just wanted to get with Jason but that ending and how he proves his love for her was too cute! I loved this book and would highly recommend
Profile Image for Janday.
277 reviews95 followers
February 12, 2015
This review is for an uncorrected advanced reading copy of this book.

Okay, first, I feel I need to warn you: if you're excited about this book because you are a fan of Kpop, you need to know that know that there is absolutely no Kpop in this book. I know. But I'll come back to the music in a second.

So this book desperately wants to be Anna and the French Kiss. It is not. Not by a long shot. I really wanted to like this book. I wanted this book to surprise me. I wanted the characters to be smart and funny, the romance to be steamy, the music to be deep and resonant, but everything just fails. First, the characters are underdeveloped. When a character is not immediately in the scene, he or she might as well not exist. The two main characters are selfish people who are completely unrelatable. I had no idea why they were falling in love with each other when they so obviously hated each other. Was it just because they were hot? I spent the first two-thirds of this book hating them for being so selfish and entitled. However, for the last third of the book, when Grace's family tragedy finally comes to light, I finally felt compassion and even concern for her (even though the nature of her tragedy was pretty predictable). This is where the story is, not with Grace trying to fight off almost every Korean because she's so pretty. Grace's breakdown is worth another half a star on this review, so it's actually more like 2.5 instead of a 2. But everything leading up to Grace's family visiting and her breakdown leaves me just confused about how two selfish people can be actually falling in love with each other.

Now, for a personal aside: is there a reason why YA books have a vendetta against parents? The evil and/or absent parent is getting really tired. I understand that characters need to come of age, but the majority of us do that just fine with loving, supportive, involved parents. Sure, when I was a teenager, I thought my mom was pretty annoying, (I sometimes still do). Does Grace's mom have to be racist for to put her at odds with Grace in Korea? I really don't think so.

Now, the music. Everything about the music in this book is terrible. Please, please, please don't market your book to Kpop fans if you have no Kpop in your book. All the named bands are Western performers. Jason gives Grace a list of Korean music to listen to, and she never follows through on getting to that music. What is on that list, Katie Stout? Do not market this book to fans of Kpop if the only mentions of any real Kpop bands are in your author bio. Speaking of what the characters listen to, can these two main characters get any more boring? You'd think two people involved in the music industry would have more interesting music tastes. Grace likes The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan and Jason likes The Doors? Great. So does everyone on the planet. Everyone already knows that's good music. There's not much cultural immersion going on when (1) literally everyone who speaks, speaks perfect English, and (2) you mention zero Korean musical performers. Even the actual band in the book, Eden, is never given any real description of what their music sounds like except not good. It must take a special talent to have characters write music but leave the reader completely in the dark about what the music sounds like. Also, "Bittersweet Symphony" is not a perfect song for any situation. Ever.

Finally, my two personal pet peeves: (1) before you give a character a migraine, learn what one is. It's not a headache. Read Oliver Sack's Migraine. You really only need the first three chapters. Hell, you can even skip Sacks and read The Language Inside it's an excellent "fish-out-of-water" story with accurate description of migraine and migraine aura. (2) Learn the real definition to the word "surreal." Please stop using it to mean "unusual." Surreal is dreamlike in an unearthly way. Having Thanksgiving dinner at an American restaurant with Koreans is not "surreal."

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Yodamom.
1,980 reviews194 followers
May 30, 2015
Finished :D 4.4 stars <3

A romantic pop star fantasy with a heartbreaking splash of drama that just happens to happen in Korea.
How is it that a semi-celebrity country girl from Nashville ends up in South Korea, at a remote boarding school when she doesn’t have any real knowledge/interest of the country or it’s customs? Grace’s running away from the shadows of her family and South Korea was the first and farthest from home she could find. To say her family relationship is strained is an understatement.
Her adventure begins, she arrives meet her roommate a Korean girl named Sophie, who is thrilled to have her as friend. Sophie, introduces her to life at the school, Korea, and to her brother and his band. They are a very popular Korean boyband, which she has never heard of and she discounts them based her lack of knowledge. Grace, is socked when she meets the most gorgeous tall Korean boy he’s ever seen. Jason, he’s gorgeous but he’s also extremely aloof towards her and even some of his bandmates. Prickly, standoffish, cold and indifferent is the way he comes off and she has a big dislike for his personality.
They both have baggage, ugly, dirty, deep down black heart wrenching pain soaked secrets. Both of them are pretending to be alright in the world, but pretending only takes you so far till it starts eating away at the edges. When the edges start to crumble hearts will break, tears will flow and the secrets come pouring out.
I really enjoyed this authors way of weaving her story. She made the little things seem important. A brush of skin was a tingling moment, a lingering smell of cologne, hand holding made your heart soar, and a kiss that was so important, not the common like in many books written. It wasn’t all about the end game of sex it was the journey of living and finding your true self. Was there teen hormonal angst, yes, but it was handled well. They acted like teens breaking into adult skins, shedding the ugly feels of growing while tumbling, tripping and sometimes failing. The family situation was realistically handled, rich busy people broken by work, pressures and tragedies. I loved how the issues where handled but not fixed, there was not unrealistic magic wand waved and it all disappeared. Her portrayal of Grace as the princess from a sheltered celebrity family with her golden ticket life and her supercilious view of her family’s and American music, her expecting others to adore her for who she is related to all worked well for me. The horrible truths that finally were finally exposed fell into a natural place in the story never swaying from the world developed, and were heartbreaking.
I really enjoyed the story. I enjoyed the little things, the moments, the seaweed chips, mmmmm and the pacing.

Profile Image for Maggie Hall.
Author 4 books956 followers
May 30, 2014
Anna and the French Kiss goes Gangnam Style? Yes please!!!

To escape the constant hassles of being part of a famous family (and to get some distance from things she’s trying to forget), Grace decides to spend her senior year abroad in South Korea, where she, a sassy blonde Southerner, couldn’t be more of a fish-out-of-water if she tried.

My first question for you: Have you ever wanted to move to South Korea? Because you will after you read this book. You can practically taste the kimchi and feel the wind rushing past your face on a death-defying motorbike ride through the city streets. We discover the country alongside Grace, and it’s magnificent.

My second question: Are you into K-Pop? I don't know much about it, so I can tell you firsthand that even if you aren’t, you’ll fall in love with Jason Bae, the aggravating but adorable Korean pop star with a hidden heart of gold and a not-so-hidden talent for being ridiculously sexy and swoony all at once.

Combine these with Grace and Jason’s lovable group of friends—I wanted Grace’s roommate Sophie to be my BFF, and you could write such good fanfic about the other boys in Eden, Jason’s band--and Grace herself, who is funny and real and made me want to give her big-sisterly advice, and yeah. This book.

HELLO, I LOVE YOU is sweet, funny, swoony, and has a lot of heart. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to figure out how I can pass for 17 so I can study abroad in Korea.
Profile Image for bipasha.
288 reviews184 followers
June 23, 2015

Pre-read thoughts:

"Hello, I love you. Won't you tell me your name?
Hello, I love you. Let me jump in your game

Talk about instalove with the jerk FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER (Honestly, why?) and blatant cultural insensitivity.

I am too disappointed to even write a lengthy critical, judgmental rantreview. In a line, I wanted this to extract a "Wow, fantastic baby" reaction from me but sadly and clearly it did not.
I would've turned a blind eye even if it was a mediocre book since it's an debut, but its showcasing an image too stereotypical, ripped-off and just flat-out negative for both Americans(Ooh, lookie lookie, it's kimchi!) and Koreans(Ooh, lookie lookie, a blonde, like NO?!), isn't something I can ignore and let off easily. It's flawed. Not to mention, the characters didn't even have their own distinct charm or vibe. This is miles away from Anna and Etienne. Lightyears away.

Even if Grace performed to the entire choreo sequence of Sorry, Sorry: apology not accepted.
As for Jason- FNC Entertainment would be shamed. Jason Bae is so not bae. And being an avid V.I.P. jamming Bae Bae for the entirety of summer, I am so not pleased with Bae.
And since we're conversing about the misunderstood-rocker-with-daddy-issues-aww, can we also talk about how cover Bae and book Bae are two different people?!

I'd rather not have a Kpop based book, than a bad Kpop based book. I want to subtly disapprove some more but I'm running out of dry humor and my points are more than sufficiently summarized in all the other reviews.
Can't believe I was losing my shit all summer waiting for this. Atleast unlike AatFK, it's a standalone. Right? Yehet?

I feel more disillusioned than an angry netizen or worse, a stanning Exo-L. Grr. >_<
Profile Image for Hilly.
692 reviews1,239 followers
July 11, 2018
3.5 stars

Cute and fun story! I found some problems but I was able to kinda overcome them and read the whole book. I was really engrossed in the story and the writing style was really fast.
I had most problems with the two main characters and some unrealistic things.
Grace is the contrary of open minded. She flees to South Korea by her choice but it seems like she was forced to go to school in another country.
Then for example she seems a little bit judgmental of Sophie when she first meets her, even if she's being super nice and actually electrified to be with her.
I admit some thoughts Grace has could be misinterpreted as mildly racists if you didn't read them closely. Others instead are only annoying.

I've never liked listening to music in a different language or watching movies with subtitles. Why would anyone listen to something they can't understand?
Then dear Grace, tell me, why would people from other countries listen to American music if they don't understand a single word of English?

"She's only, like, the biggest new teen actress in Korea," Sophie says, like I keep up with actresses who speak a language I can't understand.

Another thing that I couldn't stand was the way she kept putting her nose into things that didn't involve her.

"Sophie told me you were running away from something when you came here. What was it?" A small voice inside my brain screams for me to shut up. I'm crossing a million social boundaries right now. But I can't seem to keep my trap shut.

I turn to Yoon Jae, who walks beside me, and ask, "Who was that on the phone earlier?"

"I'll be honest—I would like to know why you did it, too. But that's none of my business. This is between the members of the band, not anyone else."

If only she remembered this thing she said the other times too.

In her defense, she goes through major character development. Therefore I don't know if the right thing to do instead is praise the author.

Jason (why call him and his sister with their American names??) has a serious bipolarity. And creates problems that really shouldn't exist. Just like Grace anyway.

Even the drama was too much for me, the was no reason for the two of them to not being together, but Grace still held on to Jason's behavior of the beginning of the book when he didn't know her so well. Just because.

On the other hand I loved Sophie and Jane!! They represent my inner fangirl. The first one with Kdramas and Kpop, the second one with cute Korean boys, her "Asian phases" (I'm still going through them and I'm not going to stop) and her love with languages.

Yoon Jae turns to make sure we're with him, and he smiles at me. I smile back, then look to Jane who dramatically fans herself.

She points to the tall boy in front of her, then throws me a thumbs-up and pretends to swoon.

I would have liked some more Korean culture and language instead of clubbing or the usual bitch co-star actress that works with the love interest but I enjoyed what I got the same.
This was a good book to feed my Korean obsession. I wish there were more YA books about Korea.
Profile Image for Glory.
350 reviews49 followers
September 21, 2015
Тот неловкий момент, когда хочется плюнуть автору в лицо.
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