I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo
on May 8, 2018
From the author of I Believe in a Thing Called Love, a laugh-out-loud story of love, new friendships, and one unique food truck.
Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn't so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind?
With Maurene Goo's signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.
Let me begin by saying that, first of all, you should not come within a five-foot radius of this book if you are hungry. This book is meant for a hot, sticky summer day. Preferably poolside, with a nice drink and a basket of greasy fries. You can, of course, read this hungry, but this is a book where the main setting is a food truck that loves to detail how its Korean-Brazilian food is made. Yeah, exactly. Grab a snack, you’ll thank me later.
How I’d Describe This Book to a Friend
First of all, this is another amazing own voices novel. These are popping up all over the place this year, and I am here for it – way to be, 2018! To take this one one step further, there are no (prominent) white people in this entire almost-300 page book. I know, right? Our main characters are Brazilian, Korean, African-American, the list goes on – but nobody is lily white. That is something I take for granted, as someone who is sometimes too pale for the palest shade of foundation made and whose Norwegian roots are stronger than a tree trunk. It was so refreshing to read a book that lovingly gave everyone else time in the spotlight, and I commend Ms. Goo for that.
Our main character is Clara. I will say this much: Clara sucks. At first, at least. She is an only child, born to now-separated parents when they were very young. Now she lives with her early-thirties dad in Los Angeles who runs a food truck called the KoBra – a Korean/Brazilian fusion menu, while her mother is a social media influencer maven who spends all of her time jetsetting around the world, getting paid to take Instagram photos and name drop products. Clara idolizes her mother, and though she thinks her dad can be a bit of a drag, it’s obvious she loves him a lot – they share a very special bond.
Anyway, my main beef with Clara is her … well, her entire personality. You know that “only child” trope? Clara takes that and runs with it. She is ostentatious, dramatic, stubborn, whiny, and would have been the kind of person I hated were I in classes with her in high school. Clara’s archenemy is Rose, a young African-American girl in her grade who is the number one everything – student council, debate team, you name it, she’s queen of it. Clara and Rose have hated each other since Rose tattled on Clara for smoking in the bathroom at school, and so when Clara gets nominated for prom queen as a joke by her friends, she turns the whole nomination into a farce. Rose, who takes this (and everything in life) very seriously, is offended, and sets out for her own revenge. Things happen, the school almost catches on fire on prom night … and let’s just say that Clara and Rose are suddenly forced to spend a lot of time together with the food truck this summer. And there’s a cute boy named Hamlet who sells coffee near one of the places they park the food truck whose reminds Clara of a Labrador Retriever, yet she can’t keep him out of her mind …
The Bottom Line
This book is not perfect. It prominently features insta-love, which I detest, especially in my YA. But even Clara – shitty personality Clara – grew on me by the end. Is this book predictable? Sure, but it’s a sweet summer romance that teaches you about the value of friendship and family, it’s not meant to break ground and really make you think critically. I grew up a Rose and hated all of the Claras I came across, so it was nice to read something from the opposite side of the fence, to maybe see what goes on in people’s heads when you think there can’t possibly be a redeeming quality to them at all.
Clara is meant to grate on your nerves. Is she rude to her poor father more than she needs to be? Oh yeah. Does she cover her mother in hero worship that she doesn’t deserve? Yep. Is her boyfriend, Hamlet, too perfect to be remotely realistic? Absolutely. But this is a sweet own voices book that will make you think a little harder about who you place value on in your life, and that’s worth its weight in Korean-Brazilian fusion cuisine. Look for The Way You Make Me Feel on shelves on May 8th, and remember: bring a snack.