One of my bookish pet peeves is insta-love. I don’t think it’s realistic that people could know each other for a few hours, a few days, even a few weeks and “fall in love.” I believe love takes time and effort. But every once in a while, I’m able to put aside that pet peeve to enjoy a cute story. Somewhere We Only Know by Maurene Goo maybe have an insta-love aspect to it, but it was still super adorable.
As Asia’s biggest K-pop star, Lucky just performed her hit song in Hong Kong to thousands of fans, but back at her hotel, she’s exhausted and hungry and just wants a hamburger. Jack is on a secret assignment for a tabloid job, and if he can nab this story, he just might land a full-time position doing what he loves: taking photos. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers and looking for a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar.
Somewhere We Only Know is fun but also much more deep than I expected from a cute rom-com YA book. It gets at the heart of not only life but the life of an artist. Lucky is the biggest K-pop star in Asia, but it’s not always a glamorous life. She is constantly mobbed by fans and has a rigid schedule, routine, and diet to keep herself the model icon. I like that Maurene Goo spotlights the darker side to being famous while also exploring how important Lucky feels her music and her influence is.
In addition, the story depicts the struggle of a creative millennial, trying to please his owns passions and the desires of parents. As someone who studied creative writing in college, I can attest to the constant “why don’t you study something useful” and “how are you going to get a job with that degree” questions. It’s annoying. And even though Jack does some pretty stupid stuff to get what he wants, I understand why he makes those choices. I like the underlying message that if you want something out of life, you have to go and get it. It’s a typical thing we hear, but this book shows characters making the effort. Yeah, they might have to do something they don’t want at first (work a job they don’t like, go through intense training, talk to their parents), but this book shows that hard work does pay off.
Another brilliant aspect of this book is the setting. Somewhere We Only Know is set in Hong Kong, and Maurene Goo paints a beautiful picture of the city. I’ve never thought I’d want to visit China, but the descriptions of the food Jack and Lucky eat and the places they visit make me long for it.
While the romance may be a little cheesy, Somewhere We Only Know is charming. Jack and Lucky’s relationship gave me all the feels, and I did not expect to be so invested in their lives from the first page. I also didn’t expect to feel so tense as I read because I was so unsure of how everything would play out. It had me hooked.
If you like YA contemporary romance, read this book. The characters, the setting, the interesting plot—all of it was well-written and gorgeous. This was my first Maurene Goo book, and I definitely will be reading more of her books.