Friday, March 8, 2019

29 Dates - Melissa de la Cruz

Title: 29 Dates
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Format: Hardcover
Rating: 1 Star

How many dates will it take to find The One?

Jisu’s traditional South Korean parents are concerned by what they see as her lack of attention to her schoolwork and her future. Working with Seoul’s premiere matchmaker to find the right boyfriend is one step toward ensuring Jisu’s success, and going on the recommended dates is Jisu’s compromise to please her parents while finding space to figure out her own dreams. But when she flubs a test then skips out on a date to spend time with friends, her fed-up parents shock her by shipping her off to a private school in San Francisco. Where she’ll have the opportunity to shine academically—and be set up on more dates!

Navigating her host family, her new city and school, and more dates, Jisu finds comfort in taking the photographs that populate her ever-growing social media account. Soon attention from two very different boys sends Jisu into a tailspin of soul-searching. As her passion for photography lights her on fire, does she even want to find The One? And what if her One isn’t parent and matchmaker approved?

My first thought when I saw the cover of this book:

My thought after I read the description and made a note of who the author was:

My thought after I actually read this book:

So, reader friends.  Here We Go.

* I am always hesitant whenever I see someone who is not from a particular culture writing a book about that culture.  Example: Melissa de la Cruz writing a book about a girl from Korea and Korean culture.  Why does this make me hesitant?  Because there is no way that anyone who is not from X culture could possibly know deep things about that culture.  There is not way someone who is not Korean could possibly understand what it really means to be Korean.  I don't care that Melissa de la Cruz's best friend from college who was Korean.  I don't care that her sister-in-law is Korean.  There is no way that Melissa de la Cruz could possibly understand the complexities of someone else's culture, especially not with enough depth to write a book based on said culture and with a Korean main character.  It's one thing to include diverse characters in your book.  It's something else entirely to write a book based on a culture of which you don't know a ton about and of which you are not a part.

The thing that make me even more hesitant about this is the way the MC and others sort of talk down about Korean culture.  First of all, her parents set her up on a seon, even though seon's are, from what I've read (and feel free to correct me if I am wrong) are usually set up between people who are older - as in out of high school.  But the author, in her own words, has "taken some liberties with this practice."  Yikes - it is alarming when someone thinks they get to take liberties with another persons culture.  Fellow human, please don't take liberties with another persons culture!

So, this kid, who is still in high school, is set up on 29 seons over the course of this book.  29!  Her parents are so into the idea of their 17 year old daughter getting married that they have already set her up on 29 seons.  And the entire time, seons are just being trashed by the MC and her friends.

* Their was NO CHEMISTRY between the MC and her love interest in the book. None.  This is supposed to be a romance, amiright?  I just wasn't feeling it. 

* Their was no discussion about how hard it must have been for Jisu to move from Seoul to San Francisco.  Which, I mean, how could there be, because how could Melissa de la Cruz possibly know how that could feel. I am not being sarcastic here - there is no way that de la Cruz could possibly know what it's like for a young girl from Korea to just get shipped off to a new country and try to adjust.  There is no way. 

* What's with the "Hey we know you just woke up, but surprise, here's a ticket to SF for TODAY?!"  Seriously?  Her parents gave her zero warning they were just shipping her off to another country.  Who Does That?!

* In addition to the above issues...... the writing was mediocre at best, and there was minimal character development - especially for Jisu's 2 best friends, Min and Euni.  They were small characters in the story, still, but even with them - you didn't have a chance to really know them or more important characters, and there was no change or growth. 

Overall, I feel like 1 star is generous for this book, but I have to give it some sort of rating. If you've read this book, tell me what you think in the comments.

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