Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Somewhere Only We Know

Rate this book
10 00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she's just performed her hit song "Heartbeat" in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She's about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She's in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.

11 00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She's very cute. He's maybe curious.

12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.

320 pages, Kindle Edition

First published May 7, 2019

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Maurene Goo

34 books1,501 followers
Maurene Goo is the critically acclaimed author of young adult novels, including I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE and THROWBACK. She's also written for Marvel's Silk series and lives and writes in Los Angeles with her husband, son, and cats.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
1,180 (19%)
4 stars
2,282 (37%)
3 stars
2,004 (33%)
2 stars
429 (7%)
1 star
115 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,377 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,991 reviews298k followers
May 9, 2019
“Gobaek.” She paused. “Isn’t it interesting that Koreans have a specific word for that? Because we understand that even saying you like someone is meaningful. In America, the moment is sealed by like, sex or some dramatic love confession. But in Korea, ‘I like you.’ That’s a big deal.”

3½ stars. I have some mixed feelings about this one. I might yet bump up my rating because I did enjoy it quite a bit. Somewhere Only We Know is a sweet, fun one-day romance with short zippy chapters and a few serious issues lurking beneath the surface.

Lucky is the hottest new thing in K-pop and she's about to make her American debut. But one eventful night in Hong Kong leads her to Korean American Jack, an aspiring journalist who doesn't recognize her. Lucky uses this opportunity to take a break from all the stress and dieting of her music career. She keeps her true identity a secret and the two go adventuring around Hong Kong and eat a lot of delicious food along the way.

Jack, on the other hand, sees a different kind of opportunity in his fateful meeting with Lucky. Though he pretends not to know who Lucky is, he is actually planning how he can use this encounter to further his career. He knows a personal story about such a big K-pop star could change everything for him.

It's a perfect mix of sweet and serious. Lots of food, sightseeing, and fun dialogue. Over the course of the day, they open up to each other and come to care for one another. They challenge each other's perceptions and gain strength from one another. One day romances don't always work for me-- The Sun Is Also a Star is one example --but this one mostly did. I agree with Tatiana that Yoon is a stronger writer than Goo, but I actually enjoyed this one more, I think, because it didn't seem to take itself quite as seriously. It was lighter and sillier, and didn't try so hard to force the instalove on me.

As I mentioned, there are some more serious issues brought up over the course of the novel. It is a light book, but with some surprising depth. It looks at body image and anxiety, and the stigma surrounding the latter in Korean culture, with Lucky having to take anti-anxiety meds in secret. Even the way the author examines having your passion be distorted and ruined by expectations and pressures was surprisingly deeper than I expected.

The only thing I didn't like - and I'm still deciding how big of a deal I think this is - is the messed-up power dynamic that exists for the majority of the story. The first night they meet, Lucky has taken a combination of sleeping pills and anxiety meds, making her seem drunk. Then when she falls unconscious, Jack takes her back to his apartment and tucks her into his bed. He then proceeds to spend most of the book manipulating and lying to her. Rather than adding tension, I honestly felt quite humiliated on Lucky’s behalf when she is oblivious to Jack’s digging and believes his questions to be innocent. It made it hard to ship them when their relationship was built on lies.

Still, it was a fun quick read, and the issues above don't go entirely unaddressed. I would happily read Maurene Goo again.

Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube
Profile Image for emma.
1,868 reviews54.5k followers
January 2, 2022
I regret to inform you that I am losing my marbles.

I imagine you will have one of two reactions to this tragic piece of news. One, you may politely inform me that this is not the first time I have made such a statement, and you would be correct in saying so.

But this time I’m serious.

Or two, you may inquire as to what complex deception I have fallen under in order to believe that I have any marbles left to lose. And this would be very valid. But if there were any remaining marbles before I read this book, I surely have no more to speak of now.

There are three separate things about this book that made me go legitimately legally insane. By legal standards.

We will begin with the most inane.

Crazy-making thing numéro un:

We follow Lucky, a K-pop star whose skinniness is noted on basically every other page, and Jack, some random hot and muscle-y guy -

Okay, wait, sidenote. I have a mini-rant. Is there a single young adult book containing a Hetero romance that doesn’t have a scene in which the guy mops the sweat off his forehead with the bottom of his shirt (which is gross) / stretches his arms over his head (which is not that frequent of an occurrence) / needs to rip his shirt off for some injury-related reason (tourniquet-ing a wound or what have you) and reveals a perfect set of abs, causing the girl to have heart palpitations and all of us to pretend any of this is new? AND NONE OF THEM EVER EXPLAIN WHERE THESE 17-YEAR-OLD BOYS GET THESE ABS FROM. It’ll be like “I’m surprised the spelling bee champion / gamer / nerdiest boy alive has abs, but he does and I won’t explain it.”


So we follow Lucky and Jack over a period of, for the most part, approximately thirteen hours.

In that time, they eat, no joke, EIGHT FULL MEALS. EIGHT. EIGHT HUGE MEALS. Plus snacks. Is that even physically possible?

Like, they ate the equivalent of four Thanksgiving dinners, basically, and proceeded to have cute quirky interactions all over Hong Kong. Including physical activity. (Get your mind out of the gutter, I mean running from paparazzi.)

I would roll around on the floor, generally feel like an overstuffed baked potato, and then explode.

That’s reason number one (including bonus rant).

Cause of death of all of my lingering marbles No. 2:

One half of the meet-cute, Jack, is without exaggeration the worst person ever brought to the page. He is a PAPARAZZO who doesn’t even LIKE the JOB but still manipulates and lightly KIDNAPS a woman then tricks her into FALLING IN LOVE WITH HIM, all while sneak-taking photos of her for a story...and he doesn’t even decide that’s a bad idea until he’s already shown the photos to his tabloid boss AND his boss has made disgusting misogynistic comments. At the very end of the book.

This your MCM?

Because maybe it’s just me but for ME, I want to kick him so hard that he rounds the world twice and then comically lands directly in a dumpster.

Killing blow to the very last of my sanity #3:

Lucky is Quirky City, Population Not Like Other Girls. Did I miss a memo in which female characters whose only traits were eating a ton and making unfunny jokes were un-canceled? Because I’d like them to be canceled again.

If you’ll excuse me, I am going to go try to track down some marbles. We are mid-quarantine and I can’t imagine that such objects are deemed essential, but this for me is certainly an emergency.

Bottom line: This book single-handedly drove me to the throes of insanity.


trying to decide which was more heartbreaking: how disappointing this book was, or the fact that i craved bao for eight and a half hours after reading it.

review to come / 1 stars


y'all ever been so critical about what you read that you buy all of an author's books after liking a single thing they wrote? no? just me?
Profile Image for monica kim.
202 reviews6,037 followers
July 8, 2021
I just love Maurene Goo books so much! They’re like what i love about my favorite korean dramas, but in book form. This one was no exception. I adored the characters and the whole exploration of going after your dreams vs just going after achievement (honestly, needed that rn in my own life). I also loved the Hong Kong setting, the korean american characters talking about what it’s like to be korean american, and all the kpop! Also, Roman Holliday is one of my all time favorite films, so reading a modernized take on that was just so fun.
Profile Image for Claudia Lomelí.
Author 8 books76.8k followers
June 10, 2019
Impresiones finales: Estuvo lindo, peeeero aburrido.

La verdad, la premisa de este libro me parecía de lo más interesante. Desde que supe de su existencia, moría de ganas por leerlo, más porque había amado otro libro de la autora (I Believe in a Thing Called Love, es hermoso). OH, y además porque lleva el título de mi canción favorita (y fue bonito darme cuenta de que sí tiene algo que ver con el libro). OH, y también porque AMO el k-pop.

Pero es que, ¿qué les digo? Me decepcionó un poco. No creo que sea malo y no lo odié, pero sí me pareció aburrido, como ya dije arriba. Todo el libro se desarrolla en un día en el que los protagonistas se van de paseo de distintos lugares de Hong Kong y comen mucho. Y ya. Además de que es ultra predecible todo lo que va a pasar, y ni siquiera me tuvo angustiada. Al momento del "drama" yo ya solo estaba poniendo los ojos en blanco.

Algo que no me agradó mucho fueron las edades de los personajes, ¡estaban súper chiquitos! Cuando leí la sinopsis, me imaginaba que por lo menos estarían en sus veintes, pero ño, Lucky ni siquiera es mayor de edad. POR LO GENERAL amo leer a protagonistas adolescentes, pero creo que en este caso, la historia habría funcionado mejor si ambos hubieran estado un poquito más grandes. I don't know, creo que esta opinión es muy personal, jajaja.

Debo admitir que sí me gustaron los personajes como parejita. A pesar de que el romance se desarrolla en un día, no se sintió como Insta-Love, ¡y eso se lo aplaudo a la autora! Es muy difícil lograr eso cuando solo tienes un día para hacer creíble una historia de amor. Obviamente ambos piensan que el otro es atractivo desde un inicio, pero hasta ahí, todo normal, ninguno se "enamoró perdidamente" del otro. Es conforme van pasando el día juntos, que se empiezan a conocer y empiezan a sentir cositas. ¿Que si fue apresurado? Sí, obvio, ¡pero no se sintió! Y eso es WOW.

También me gustaron los protagonistas como personajes separados :). Ambos eran muy diferentes y se complementaron muy bien. Además de que aprendieron el uno del otro.


Eso es todo.
Profile Image for Danielle.
831 reviews451 followers
October 30, 2020
A k-pop star named Lucky tricks her security guard and sneaks out of her hotel room in search for a hamburger 🍔. Oh... but she takes a mix of meds before bed to help her sleep and has already taken said meds before going on this adventure. 🤪 Enter Jack, who finds Lucky on a bus, sleeping in hotel slippers. Thinking she’s drunk he decides to help this poor girl get home safe. ❤️ I won’t give the drama away... This was a fairly quick, entertaining read. Definitely predictable. It’s one of those mind cleansing books that make a good bumper between more complex reads.
Profile Image for Kristen Peppercorn .
558 reviews96 followers
May 3, 2019
I want an ARC of this more than I want to be Kim Taehyung's headband.

Nochu came through!
So I'm thinking there is (j)hope for me yet for becoming Tae Tae's headband one day.
Quick, somebody tell Yoongi to wish for it to be true so it really happens!
*windshield wiper laughs*

5/3/19: The review, bruh!

First and foremost, thank you so much to the publisher and to Edelweiss+ for providing me with a much appreciated ARC of this book. I was honestly so happy when I was approved, I could have danced the night away.

Okay, now time to get down to the nitty gritty - my thoughts on the book:

Overall, I think this book was very sweet, very cute, but ultimately very forgettable. I'll explain further.

Things I liked:

1. The humor - I found the jokes and the overall humor in this book to be very relatable and right up my alley. There were several times where I physically had to stop reading to laugh out loud and soak in the funniness of the moment. This is the cutesy kind of contemporary stuff that makes me UWU (I'm sorry lol) big time.

2. The plot/setup - Not going to lie, the main character and her situation SEVERELY reminded me of Hannah Montana. The whole 'nobody is gonna recognize me without my wig prolly' thing just gave me major throwback vibes for old Miley Stewart but I liked it. Of course, I was super interested in the subject matter of this book as a HUGE fan of both contemporary YA and K-Pop. There was just a few things that I wished would have been done differently.

What I wasn't so thrilled about:

1. Oh hello there, Insta-Love, (not) nice to see you again. I did not miss you. - So yeah, I don't really feel like the word "Love" belongs anywhere near a romance that takes place over the course of a mere 24-hour period. That 'I love you' shit almost made me drop my croissant. I gagged a little and did my best to stop myself from swallowing my tongue before it rolled down the back of my throat.

2. Very American - I don't even know how to word this without offending anyone so, screw it, try not to get offended cuz here I go! The main characters are Korean-American. And that is fine. Obviously. It's great! However, I was really wanting to soak up a little more culture outside of my own while reading this book. I would have been really interested in seeing the differences between my own culture and Korean culture since I'm whiter than the screen I'm currently typing this review into. Anyway, there were some bits of Korean and even Chinese culture thrown in, but still, most of the characters were more American at than anything. Take away a few minor things and it could have felt as if the book itself was set in the good old US of A.

3. Dual perspectives are twinning - I saw a few other people mention this in their reviews and I have to say that I agree with them. Several times I could not decipher the differences between the voices of Lucky and Jack. If it weren't for the 'he' or 'she' cues, I would not have been able to tell whose POV I was reading. The two characters were slightly different, but they really needed more work to be separate beings with separate personalities.

4. A little too unbelievable - I mean, obviously when you're reading a book about a celebrity, there are going to be things that are a little far-fetched and hard to believe. And that being said, I do think the author did her best to really try to show a deeper side to the perspective of a K-Pop idol. However, the events that transpired at the end (without spoiling anything) were just a little too out there, considering how strict the K-Pop world really is, for me to take seriously. There would have been MAJOR repercussions to her actions and I'm talking *motions slitting my own throat* career done. Ended. Over. Kaput!

To sum it all up, did I enjoy this book?


Am I glad I got to read it?


Should you read it?


Will I ever think of this book ever again?

No... probably not.
Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,107 reviews6,570 followers
July 5, 2019
“Gobaek.” She paused. “Isn’t it interesting that Koreans have a specific word for that? Because we understand that even saying you like someone is meaningful.

4.5 stars

This book hit me WAY harder than I was expecting it to, holy moly. This book was so much deeper and more profound than it seemed on the surface and was deeply personal to me. The love interest was also SO lovely??? Also, 10 stars to the amazing anxiety rep!

TW: restricted eating, anxiety
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,404 reviews11.7k followers
April 17, 2019
3.5 stars

I guess I should stop rolling my eyes at these one-day romances. I now have liked both The Sun Is Also a Star and Somewhere Only We Know. Both times I had started the books with skepticism and then slowly surrendered to the almost-insta-love. Not sure if what happens in these romances is love, but the attraction can happen in one day, and I am clearly capable of falling for this scenario.

It took me awhile to get into this story. Lucky, a K-pop star, is getting ready for bed and takes some sleeping and anti-anxiety meds and suddenly decides to sneak out for a few minutes to get herself a burger. (A salad provided and approved by her handlers just isn't enough.) On the way, she gets lost and stumbles into Jack, a Korean American aspiring paparazzo. At first, Jack doesn't recognize Lucky and genuinely tries to help her, because she seems to be under the influence of something. But soon, he realizes who exactly she is and thinks that spending some time with this star and photographing her in the process could be his professional golden ticket.

Like I said, I wasn't immediately into this setup. The whole sleeping meds thing just rubbed me the wrong way. Mercifully, that evening didn't last long, and the next day of frolicking around Hong Kong, eating delicious foods and seeing the sites was what turned things around for me. This is when the story becomes cute, and occasionally deep. This is when you get exactly what the synopsis promised you.

Maurene Goo has used her love for Korean pop culture before in I Believe in a Thing Called Love (K-drama primer, basically), and in Somewhere Only We Know she puts the realities of K-pop stardom to a good use too. Lucky's personal story is great stuff.

When I read The Sun Is Also a Star, I gave it 3.5 stars, but rounded it up to 4. This time, I am compelled to round it down, because Goo is not as strong a writer as Yoon is. For one, Lucky and Jack's voices are indistinguishable. Secondly, Goo, I feel, could have leaned into kdrama tropes even more; those tropes are so delicious for a reason. If she wanted to take the fluffy route, she should have dived into the tropes all the way.

What Goo delivers on, though, is a cute romance, Roman Holiday in Hong Kong. This is a not exactly original, but fun beach read.
Profile Image for Emma.
59 reviews2,301 followers
May 20, 2019
oh my this was SUCH a pleasure to read!!
Profile Image for chloe ♡.
394 reviews269 followers
May 12, 2019

update (12 may 2019): i'm finally done reading this, and oh my god i loved it so much. review to come!
Profile Image for Sara (sarawithoutanH).
512 reviews3,470 followers
May 8, 2019
Things I Liked
• This book feels sooo much like a kdrama and I was LIVING for it! I need Netflix to make an adaptation ASAP.
• The characters! Maurene Goo has always had strong female leads, but I’ve always felt her love interests were severely lacking. This was dual perspective and I think this made both characters so much more dynamic and interesting.
• It was just so goddamn cute! I don’t read YA contemporary too often and I almost never rate it more than 4 stars but this book was an exception!

Things I Disliked
• The ending. Most of this book was absolutely fantastic, but the last quarter or so lost its luster. The ending felt rushed and a little far-fetched.

Overall, this was a great contemporary. If you like kpop or kdramas, I definitely think you should pick this up!
Profile Image for jaime ⭐️.
126 reviews6,461 followers
January 28, 2021
2021 reads: book 9/75

maurene goo's concepts for her fluffy ya novels are basically everything i could want from a fast and cute, feel-good read, but the execution is just never there which is so disappointing. okay so let's get started:

the two main characters are insufferable. jack is quite literally maybe one of the worst male romcom leads i have ever met. at the beginning of the story he is being mean to his dad, who has gotten him an internship at a bank and just wants the best for his son who has no idea what he wants to do with his life. we see him being an ungrateful brat, and THEN he sneaks into a hotel to get some photos of a couple of celebrities because his side gig is being a PAPARAZZI. i'm so sorry but how am i supposed to be charmed by this guy when his livelihood is invading people's privacies. has he never heard of, i don't know, the hospitality industry? or retail? so immediately i had no sympathy for him or his situation. and then his whole motivation for the big day out with lucky was to get sneaky photos of her and send them to his sleazy celebrity journalist boss. literally give me a break. so we watch this guy decide to lie and manipulate this girl into falling in love with him so he can make some money, but he's supposed to be a good guy at the end because he actually falls in love with her? sorry but no.

lucky on the other hand is just plain annoying. she acts like a toddler basically the entire time and cracks all these unfunny jokes and it just made me cringe a little bit. i just don't see what these characters saw in each other. if lucky wasn't so beautiful and skinny and famous, i don't think jack would have fallen in love with her (in the space of one day at that) at all. i also just found her to be incredibly entitled and it's really hard to relate to her when all she does is complain about being famous and successful. i just wanted this discussion of fame to be a little bit more nuanced than lucky constantly talking about how she wants to sleep in some days. if this is the author trying to make her sound relatable, it just fell a little flat.

the way the plot started also just felt really weird? lucky is in her hotel room and takes her anxiety medication and a singular sleeping pill, and then all inhibitions go out the window. she sneaks out of the building and then essentially blacks out and starts acting like a sorority girl at her first frat party. literally everyone that comes across her at this stage observes how 'wasted' she is. maybe i'm uneducated because i've never taken a sleeping pill but i have taken anxiety meds and i know that they literally do not make you start acting drunk. it just felt really unrealistic to me.

we also heard nothing about lucky's anxiety other than the fact that she had to take medication and this felt like such a wasted opportunity to me. there could have been some really good character development and understanding of her issues with being in the public eye if we got to hear more about how her anxiety affected her life but there was literally nothing. it just felt really unfinished and almost just like plot convenience.

also i just felt like this book was incredibly boring and repetitive. it was all set in the space of 24 hours and i felt like we were reading the same conversations over and over again. they got food, they talked about lucky's job, they got more food, more about lucky's job, more food, they both grew up in los angeles, more food, more about how they love los angeles, etc, etc. also they were both lying to each other the entire time, so that made it even more hard to see their chemistry. i honestly skimmed about 70% of this book because it just felt all the same.

all that being said, it was readable and a super easy read, but i don't think i'll be picking up anymore of this authors works.

Profile Image for Amy.
2,628 reviews415 followers
December 24, 2019

Fun Fact: I adore everything Maurene Goo writes. Do I acknowledge that this is not the best book I've read by her? Yes. Have the majority of my friends quite justly given it 3 stars? Also yes.
Am I still going to give it 5 stars because I enjoyed every moment of it, imperfections and all?


Maurene Goo reminds me why I love YA. These silly, hormonal teenagers fall in love over the course of the day and instead of putting on my grumpy face I'm like...

'Cause they are just so flippin' cute! And the chemistry is always there, no matter how contrived the circumstances.

And also I've been a sucker for the whole defying-parental-Asian-expectations and coming-of-age since I first discovered Good Enough my senior year of high school. Something about it appeals to my obsessive Type A personality.

But about this book. I loved Lucky. I did not expect to. But her journey felt fun and raw and I totally loved her karaoke moment. She's driven.

I'm less in love with Jack. As a character, I found his plot line and character growth predictable and a little irritating. (I mean, he is kind of an unethical jerk.)
But I liked him with Lucky. Her joy mixes well with his cynicism. And the combination left me happy.

Anyway, I have a house to finish cleaning 'cause apparently on Christmas Eve you aren't supposed to just read all afternoon. But once I started this book I could not resist finishing it. I'll call it a Christmas gift to myself.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

You had me at K pop starlet.


Profile Image for Jananie (thisstoryaintover).
290 reviews13.8k followers
February 5, 2020
This was SO CUTE. Loved Lucky's character and her chemistry with Jack and their overall dynamic of pushing each other to be better. Wished the plot had been a little less convenient but loved the setting and vibe of this book and the very authentic portrayal of the kpop industry and being Korean American and trying to figure out your dreams.
Profile Image for ♛ may.
806 reviews3,837 followers
September 13, 2019
for a book that started off a little eccentric, it really grew into something so sweet.

- lucky is a really fun, playful, quirky character (her character was really overdone in the beginning, but she grew on me super quickly) but it's done really well that she doesn't seem like a cliche or a manic pixie dream girl
- jack's storyline and background were so interesting to explore. i loved the dialogue on celebrities and their lives and how it was handled in this book. you really get to see jack's personal and ethical dilemma with his job as a paparazzo
- their romantic fantasy day was SO. FREAKING. CUTE.
- so much fluff. we love the fluff
- i loved all the food that shared together and all the sights they saw, you felt like you were in Hong Kong with them
- and explored really deep topics like working hard for your dreams as well as talk on anxiety and body image

- it's very instalove heavy, and it's not done BADLY but when they were
- lucky's actions were really,,,,,strange in the first few chapters. i couldn't believe the idea that she just PASSES out in the middle of the street bc of her medication and if she KNOWS that's what her medicine does to her,,,,,,why would she leave her security and go look for food AFTER she takes her pills?? i just couldn't see why that needed to happen
- jack's character gave me a lot of grief. not only bc he was lying to lucky the whole day (there was a lot of character development shown there so that can be forgiven.....partially) but THE WAY his feelings shifted and changed CONSTANTLY, i felt like there wasn't enough time to develop and build his character in a believable way

but overall guys, this was the cutest, fluffy story and if you aren't being super critical (and ethical) about it, it's a real page turner. i had such a hard time putting it down last night bc i was just having too much fun reading the book

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Olivia (Stories For Coffee).
610 reviews5,654 followers
September 1, 2019
Maurene Goo is just such a treat. Her stories never fail to suck me right in and fill me with warmth and giddiness. This particular story of her centered around the world of K-pop which I recently dipped my toe into, and I absolutely adored her rendition of that particular career.

Not only was this a cutesy romance that kept me up until 1 am, but it also had an incredible depth to it as well. Goo showed us both the good (the endless support and inspiration people receive from the music) and bad of K-pop (strict diets, overworking oneself, a lack of privacy, etc.) which was eye-opening and added a certain realness to this story.

What I loved most about this story was how two characters fell for one another within a day, but it felt absolutely real, to me. Other insta-love novels have characters confessing their love for one another after having two interactions, but with this story, we see Lucky and Jack talk about so many different topics like music, photography, diets, war and the conflict between chasing your dreams or doing something practical, and the fear of starting something new. Their connection and conversations built this bond between them where their love felt natural and deep because they spoke about such important topics that aren’t usually explored in romances.

I also just adored how Lucky was such a messy and quirky girl at heart and how Jack really wanted to protect her and keep her safe. Their love felt so beautiful to me, and I was rooting for them from the very start.

This was such a wonderful, wonderful story. It was such a treat and surprised me with the depth it held, and ugh. Maurene Goo is a gift to this world.

• Korean MCs falling in love in Hong Kong in a Roman Holiday retelling
• Explores the pros and cons of K-pop
• Discusses the fear of chasing your dreams and our need to make the most out of our lives
• Tons of food descriptions
Profile Image for Alexa.
2,213 reviews11.7k followers
May 21, 2019
3 stars, and I’d specifically recommend this one to read if you enjoy fluffy (and maybe a little over the top) Korean dramas. There’s a particular aspect that bothered me at the start of this story, but otherwise, very cute, very sweet contemporary story.
Profile Image for Kristin Hackett (Merrily Kristin).
215 reviews3,662 followers
April 19, 2019
I really loved Maurene Goo's previous novel, The Way You Make Me Feel, so I had been highly anticipating Somewhere Only We Know. This is the first book Maurene has written that's told in dual perspectives, instead of being told solely by the heroine, and I have to say that I missed the old format (but I do understand why there's a guy on the cover now!). While I did like Jack and getting to know his story / being able to see Lucky though his eyes, I think it took away from the story. Another change is that Somewhere Only We Know took place over the course of a day in Hong Kong and I wasn't fully sold on the romance between the characters. I think the story would've benefited if we had more time to see their feelings develop, though I understand the argument for it needing to be told in a day. It was a very cute and quick read but it isn't a book that's stuck with me upon finishing.
Profile Image for Tijana.
326 reviews153 followers
May 8, 2021
"We had been telling lies all day. So when we finally told the truth, it was like dropping a bomb."

There's something special about Maurene Goo's stories. They don't blow me away and I don't think I'll ever give one more than 3.5 stars, yet somehow I feel like I'll never forget them.
I loved both MCs in this one and even though I hate insta love trope, the way they fell for each other within a day seemed believable.
Kinda wish there was a sequel tho, because the story did end pretty abruptly.

All in all, 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,739 reviews709 followers
April 20, 2019
I had really enjoyed Maurene’s previous book and after reading this synopsis, I was eager to get into it.

I liked Lucky and Jack well enough. They’re both good people struggling with what they want to do and in a random occurrence, find a spark. The banter between them was cute and there were definitely some sweet moments. There are a few other characters, but they were all shadows as the real story is Lucky and Jack.

Plot wise, it was okay. It’s fast moving, the setting changes often, and the food descriptions made me hungry. The scenery felt cardboard-y and didn’t help to conjure anything while I was reading. And while I enjoyed the way the day unfolded, I never quite saw the fall into love aspect.

Overall, I’m not sure how I’m feeling about this story. I loved the ending and wanted more from it, but I could have easily set the book down and not finished.

**Huge thanks to Farrar, Straus, and Giroux for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Fuzaila.
251 reviews360 followers
January 7, 2020
You know this incredibly warm, gooey feeling in your tummy while reading romances that you know are cliched, but yet you can't deny yourself that you're enjoying them? This book did that and more - more because, when I say cliched, it isn't bad. This book had a surprising depth. You know what's going to happen and yet it manages to take you off-guard.


It's Hong Kong in the present world. We have Lucky, the K-Pop sensation, a teenager, who's suffocated with her lifestyle even though she is literally living her dream. Then we have Jack, who's interning at his dad's bank against his will, doing photography for a tabloid magazine on the side. Jack doesn't know a thing about K-Pop and Lucky hasn't been in the outside world for a long time.

The two of them cross paths when Lucky decides to leave her hotel room for the night to have a hamburger. They end up spending a day together, traveling around Hong Kong.

Lucky doesn't know that Jack has been photographing her the whole time. Jack didn't know he'd end up falling for her.

It's dreams against desires, reality against hope, success against happiness.

♦ Right from the start, we are introduced to this fascinating world of K-Pop through Lucky's music. I adored the musical descriptions here. They were magical. Maurene Goo definitely has a way with words. While we see the shiny made-up exterior of K-Pop stars, the book gives us a glimpse into the harsh conditions of singers working under management labels. Who knew these singers weren't getting paid enough for their songs? Did you know about the one-cup diet these singers are put through? I mean, seriously! My evening snack itself comprises packets of processed foods and these performers aren't allowed more than one cup of, like, salad, for an entire day! *shudders*

Like I said, informative and eye-opening. The diversity and difference in American and Korean cultures are very visible.

♦ My favorite part was the sight-seeing. We get a virtual tour through the entirety of Hong Kong, though I did wish there were more of the descriptions of the places.

♦ And the food, goddammit why do books have to make me hungry ugh. Not to forget all the talking. OHMYGOD. I have so missed seeing real uncensored conversations in YA. Jack and Lucky talk about everything under the sun that matters. Their conversations were so deep and pungent that I found stopping to think about them, highlighting every other dialogue. Some of the observations about following your dreams were like a punch in the gut. Don't get me wrong - I've read enough of those in books. But the situations that gave rise to these conversations in the book really hit me hard.

♦ The best thing about the romance and the interactions was the realisticity (is that even a word?!). The awkwardness between potential lovers, the urge to feel and appear good and sophisticated - these norms were not only broken down, but also acknowledged and laughed over. You don't find that in YA books.

♦ There was this insta-love kinda spark in the beginning, but I really liked how the author managed it. Two people who were attracted to each other, but also genuinely interested in what the other person wanted. It was like Before Sunrise, but set in Hong Kong, with a runaway celeb and possibility of a scandal. Wooh, I like that.

♦ The character development was palpable. Lucky's celebrity persona and the Lucky we see with Jack aren't very different, but they were pretty distinguishable. Yet there wasn't any of the I'm-different-with-him sorta crap. I felt that she was confusing at times. The overall strength of her character though, and the way she spoke for all the determined, confident young girls out there, was truly inspiring. Jack, on the other hand was the normal confused teen with no idea what to do with his life. These contrasting personalities and the way the author develops them towards the end of the story, was quite commendable.

♦ The main reason this wasn't a five-star read for me were the clichés. Towards the end, while Lucky's real persona is revealed and the paparazzies take over, a lot of stuff happens that even a five-year-old could have anticipated. There is also the issue of the whole story happening in just a day. Granted, it was an amazing day. But how cliched is it that one day with two people lying to each other all the time ends up with the couple falling in love? I also felt that Jack's 'conversation' with his parents was too good to be true. I know what Asian parents are like, and part of the reason I related to him was because he knew what his parents were like too. That simple confrontation in the end was soo quick and convenient -it was annoying.

♦ But there was this slight twist too, the ending was not what I expected. It was GOOD, and way more realistic. It gave closure to many of the problems and themes addressed in the book. It was slightly rushed, but I liked it.

This book was a different experience even though I've read YA romcoms with K-Pop stars before (it was baaad). Two adorable, realistic teens spending a day wandering around Hong Kong, eating all sorts of food, with enough drama to spice it up - I think it's worth a read.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

P.S. This book reminded me of Tweet Cute. Teens + food + angsty drama + romance. Plus, the Jacks in both the books were soo similar that I'm starting to wonder whether it was more than a coincidence.
Profile Image for Brooke — brooklynnnnereads.
1,035 reviews248 followers
April 20, 2020
3.5 stars

With K-pop becoming immensely popular over the past few years, I thought this book would be a good introduction to it for me. In all honesty, I don't know anything about K-pop aside from it being a music genre (it's a music genre right?). Anyway, this book was going to be my gateway into the K-pop world.

It was a fun and unique read. The story and the characters actually reminded me of the novel, "The Sun is Also a Star" by Nicola Yoon. Both of the stories are different from each other but they just came across as similar to me. Maybe it's because of the connection with a stranger that leads to an adventure. Either way, if you liked this novel you may like that novel (and vice versa).

I have read novels before where the main character is hiding their fame but for me, this novel felt different. Maybe it's because there was a clear global idolization regarding the main character and I couldn't imagine the pressure of that on someone so young.

Even though I haven't been to Hong Kong, I really liked the experience of it through this story. Through the details of the locations and the foods, it felt like I was visiting a place where I've never been and it gave me the desire to travel there one day.

The story is somewhat predictable but it was still enjoyable. It was a quick read and I really enjoyed this author's writing style. I will definitely look for more from this author in the future.

***Thank you to Raincoast Books for sending me an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review***
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 28 books5,678 followers
February 10, 2022
Roman Holiday remade with a K-Pop star and a paparazzo? YES, PLEASE!

I'm not even into K-Pop, I just think that's a great premise, and this angle made it fresh and added some really fun elements to the story. K-Pop stars have to be squeaky clean: no torrid romances, no hard partying, etc. They are also on really strict schedules and really strict diets. So Lucky going out on the town (in this case, Hong Kong) alone with a boy, eating all the carbs, trying all the things, and apparently blackout drunk when Jack discovered her, could have ruined Lucky's career, which she has worked hard for. And how do you make a paparazzo sympathetic? Well, he's young, he's just starting out, mainly because he's desperate for money, because although he comes from a wealthy family, he's trying to make it on his own. He is passionate about photography, but he's a lot more "lost" than Lucky is, and they're conversations about talent and hard work and passion are really great.

This book was sweet without being saccharine, believable as a romance and a plot, and while I'm not one to get into a book being "clean" it really was totally clean- no swears, no sex, no decapitations.
Profile Image for Romie.
1,094 reviews1,269 followers
March 21, 2019
things I liked:
• the themes explored — following your dream and finding out who you really are and what you want to do
• the dual perspective
• the setting + the food — I really liked that we got to ‘visit’ Hong Kong and read about so many kind of Asian food
• the parents of both main characters — very supportive and kind
• Lucky was a very likable character and I wanted what’s best for her
• the anxiety rep was good
• I'm still a huge fan of Maurene Goo's writing — I think it's so easy and nice to read her books

things I didn’t like:
• the fact that this book only took place during one day — it made the story between the two MCs less believe
• insta love — I’m known to hate it, and the story only lasting a day made it so hard for me to believe in their love story
• Jack was so judgmental for most of the book and just an ass
• even though Lucky repeated several times shat she didn’t need to be saved, of course Jack was always there to save the day
• the ending was so easy — after the big plot twist that we knew about but Lucky didn’t, it only took about 15 pages for things to be okay,,,,,like it was so easy for everything to be back to normal (I’m trying really hard not to spoil a specific thing that happened that bothered me a lot bu anyway)

Yeah in the end I think it was a very bittersweet book, it had a lot of potential, but it felt a bit meh to me. (3.5)

Thank you so much Farrar, Straus & Giroux Book for Young Readers for providing me a physical arc in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Lisa (Remarkablylisa).
2,289 reviews1,828 followers
March 9, 2019

I received an ARC from Raincoast books in exchange for a honest review. 

Honestly, I love what Maurene Goo represents because she's an Asian American author who writes YA contemporaries representing the Asian community but this book was a huge let down. I think I've been under the impression that I loved the previous book she's written because why wouldn't I like a YA novel featuring a character I could relate to in terms of culture? But turns out, I forgot that I actually didn't really like 'I Believe In A Thing Called Love.' And unfortunately, Maurene Goo didn't win me with this one either. 

Somewhere Only We Know follows the story of a sixteen year old K-Pop Star called Lucky who just finished a huge Asian country tour and is staying in Hong Kong for the weekend before she makes her American debut on a popular evening television show. Lucky has a lot of things riding on her. If she does well, her label company will make sure to jam pack her schedule with events to make sure they earn as much coin as possible. If she doesn't, the label will most likely move onto their other stars and focus on them to grow their careers. When Lucky is about to fall asleep, she finds herself starving and craving a cheeseburger. Looped on sleeping pills and anxiety medication, Lucky ventures outside her hotel room and onto the streets, meeting a fellow Korean-American who currently resides in Hong Kong with his family, Jack. Jack dealing with his pressures from his strict Korean parents, opts to make a career for himself in photography. In order to pay for rent, and the super expensive adventure he's taking Lucky on, Jack takes photos of Lucky for a popular tabloid magazine. It isn't until along the way does he question his morals and ethics towards his lucrative side gig. 

Together, Lucky and Jack spend the weekend chasing the sun, visiting numerous Hong Kong attractions, eating all the delicious food the country has to offer, and falling in love. It's only until Lucky realizes the motive behind Jack's friendship/companionship does she find her world turned upside down. 

I'm a huge fan of Korean culture so when I knew there was going to be a book about a K-Pop star I was super excited. I normally don't read any books based on superstars and rockstars or musicians. I just don't connect with fabricated celebrities. But because this book was based on K-Pop, I gave it a try. And I'm severely disappointed to report that while Maurene Goo made sure to have a lot of K-Drama references in her previous novel, I Believe in a Thing Called Love, she didn't put ANYTHING relating to K-Pop in this book at all. It just doesn't make sense to not put any references to who Lucky's colleagues are or the korean artists she listens to. Maybe, Goo didn't want to date the book and so it can live on for decades to come but it irked me as a fan because it missed the perfect "I know that!" reference moment. 

While Goo left out references, the book did a great job at giving a snippet of a typical Korean Idol life. Lucky cannot be ungracious, rude, or have any attitude towards anyone in the public eye. She also can't, always watching what she eats, and practices her routines and singing non-stop. It's tough being an idol and I felt from my knowledge of the industry, Goo did a fantastic job at showing non-Kpop fans what it's about. 

However, the book itself was lacking severely. I didn't feel any chemistry between Jack and Lucky. They came off more like friends at best. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that it was love at first sight situation since they only spent two days together and their feelings were so deep they declared their love on Sunday night. 

I also had a huge problem with the fact that there's really no plot except they hung out together and she avoided the public eye when she finally got recognized and Jack admitted that he knew who she was all along after a quick google search. They literally went to a bunch of sight-seeing attractions and ate a bunch of food so much to the point that I thought it was a food guide. I also didn't like how Jack's backstory was that he spent his gap year building the courage to go against his parents' wishes of becoming a banker and being a photographer instead only to have the parents be OKAY with it at the very end. Like they were so relaxed about it I was shocked. What was the point of his angst when in the end the parents would just agree? 

Goo also had an interesting approach to this book as well as she tried to delve into deeper philosophical topics teenagers and adults like myself could relate to. The idea that there are a group of people who are too afraid to pursue their passion and make excuses every step of the way to not go along that path. While it's a fantastic point to inspire readers, it came off very...John Green but not quite. It didn't make sense most of the time and it sounded more like it was supposed to come off smart but came out more like fluff instead. 
Lucky also comes over very self-righteous. Her mentality is that ANYONE CAN ACHIEVE THEIR DREAMS IF THEY PUT THEIR MINDS TO IT which is fantastic but also there's a natural limitation to what people can do. Not everyone can make it like she does and she should know her years of training as an idol that not every idol can be successful her. There will always be someone who was more talented than her but didn't get the same opportunities as her to get the spotlight she did. Lucky was just simply lucky in that aspect.

Finally, the ending. All was forgiven way too quickly and things wrapped up too nicely for anyone to really take it seriously.


It's a light contemporary read but honestly, not that cute and nothing much happens. I can't really even recommend this to a K-Pop fan because it included the bare minimum of K-Pop references. 
Profile Image for Jacob Proffitt.
2,997 reviews1,641 followers
Shelved as 'unfinished'
April 9, 2020
So I gave this a shot, excited to have a wish-fulfillment fantasy with a k-pop star as an original twist. And the Hong Kong setting really shone in the parts I read. I worried with Jack being a paparazzi and making money with celeb photos because that's a conflict of interest that could have very hurtful consequences. And I was going along with it at first because we see shreds of human decency with Jack in a celeb interaction (not Lucky, someone else) where he's telling himself "I'm not the one hurting them, I'm just the one who caught them" but you can kind of see that it bothers him and this is a justification he has on mental repeat.

But then they have an evening and he takes careful care of this stranger in need and I got to like him a bit. Only, then he turns evil—or plots evil if you like. And no, that is not too strong a word. Here's my definition if you want to back-check and I'll admit to culling this from Terry Pratchett: evil starts with viewing people as objects to be used for your personal ends/gratification. Once he figures out who she is, Jack

It's so much deception and evil intent that I have zero respect for Jack at this point. A person who can make that plan and take so many determined, active steps to pull it off is not someone I have any sympathy for or engagement with. I felt bad for Lucky. She felt like someone who needed and deserved a good day. It is staggeringly unfortunate that she ran afoul of Jack in that need...

No rating on this one for . . . reasons. It's complicated. Which is why there's a link...
Profile Image for Nev.
1,111 reviews152 followers
May 15, 2019
2.5 - I didn’t really have high hopes for this book, the premise seemed super cheesy and I didn’t enjoy the other book I had tried from Maureen Goo, I Believe in a Thing Called Love. But I wanted to give this a try to see how kpop was going to be represented in a YA book……… and it was pretty stereotypical. It had all the cliches you’d expect to be in a poorly researched Western article ~exposing~ the “dark side of kpop” without much nuance for the fact that the experience of one group or artist isn’t the experience for everyone.

Okay, sure I’m biased and reading this through the lens of a BTS fan. Most readers who aren’t familiar at all with kpop probably won’t have the same problems I do. But I think it’s a shame that those readers will most likely come away from this book feeling like they’ve learned so much about the kpop industry from this piece of fiction. Also, on the subject of kpop… why are there no actual Korean celebrities mentioned? Tons of actual Western celebs get name dropped, but the only Korean ones are fictional people made up for this book. Was it because the author or publisher thought readers wouldn’t know the difference? I just think it would’ve added a layer of realism for the story for people who are “in the know.”

I don’t think this story was all bad. I did enjoy a fair amount of the conversations that Jack and Lucky had with each other. Specifically when talking about their Korean identity and sometimes feeling too Americanized or like outcasts when traveling to Korea. Also their conversations about sometimes needing to be selfish and do what’s best for you even if it’s not what other people want for you.

Also, I think whirlwind 1 day romance stories where people fall too quickly just aren't my style. Especially when there's some kinda sleazy secret keeping going on.

I don’t know. This really just was not for me.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,377 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.