Hart and Seoul – Kristin Burnham


I really loved this story. It’s sweet and full of soul. It has everything that is dramatic and heartfelt of Sarah Dessen along with all the situational comedy found in Meg Cabot’s work. I use these older comp titles because it truly had the feel of a classic contemporary novel. Tackling teen issues but also with the aspect of comedy and surrealism. (;You’re the princess of Genovia’ anyone?)

Our main character Merilee Hart is dealing with some drama within both her friend and family relationships. There is momma drama, pressures about where to go to college and friendship breakups. All things portrayed beautifully and in an authentic way. Less dramatic, and more just real. These are real problems.

Now the novel part of it is the fact a kpop star turns up to be her neighbor’s nephew and his world and her world collide as they are thrown together to process the things happening to them. I liked this aspect a lot, it led to some great cultural crossover moments. It is important to remember the Korean main character in this novel is not Korean-American, so there are times when confusion comes up in simply learning another country’s customs. I think this is done respectfully, but would look to representative voices to decide if they feel that way too.

Ultimately the book really delivers. There is the angry first connection, fake dating, and then sweet romance all in the story. It packs a nice punch and Merri stays strong through the whole thing. She keeps her self respect while also making a few mistakes that have consequences. The ending was just perfect for me. I can’t wait to see more of the author’s work.

I’ll give the context that I am kpop adjacent. I know a LOT about my family’s favorite bands because they are literally always talking about updates on whats going on with them. So I am vaguely familiar with the world, but if you don’t have the knowledge going in, the novel does a good job of explaining what it is like. It examines the idea of fandom and showcases both problematic fans and genuine fans. The emotional arc for Lee’s character also seems authentic to what a real kpop star could be going through.

I definitely recommend for those looking for a sweet romcom to smile and giggle and get second hand embarrassment from. This one is excellent, and I won’t hold it against them for not mentioning Big Bang even once.

ARC provided via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.


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