I’ll be the One by Lyla Lee
Genres: Young Adult, Fiction
Maturity Level: 3
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Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.
She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.
When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.
But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself.
This book was so fun! I wish it had been available back in June when I was really craving light, feel-good books because it would have really hit the spot. It’s exactly what you would expect based on the cover and blurb.
I loved that this book had a nice balance between being plot-driven and character-driven. While there is good character development and some lovely introspective moments, the book is mainly driven forward by the K-Pop competition. Even the romance, which was so, so sweet, took a back seat to reality TV. It made for a book that was fun but didn’t feel superficial.
I also really appreciated that Lee didn’t assume that I’m a K-Pop fan. While there were lots of references that I’m sure would have been more meaningful to me if I was a fangirl, she took the time to explain a lot of the vocabulary and background. As someone who knows nothing about K-Pop and very little about Korean culture, this was vital to my enjoyment of the book.
Why were you reading this book if you’re not a K-Pop fan? BECAUSE IT WAS CUTE, OKAY?!
Skye really shone as a main character. She’s got plenty of spunk and confidence, but not in an obnoxious way. She provides such important representation as a plus sized girl, not only for East Asian teens, but for teens of all ethnicities and backgrounds. I don’t know any woman who at some point hasn’t hated her body (probably because of something her mom said), but Skye shows that you can be healthy without being a size 2. She shows that it’s possible to love yourself just the way you are. And she did so with poise, confidence, and self-love.
My only critique of the book isn’t anything wrong with the book, it’s just something I personally didn’t care for. It didn’t gel with what I know about reality singing/dancing competitions. Specifically I found it weird that Skye only had to go up on weekends (in So You Think You Can Dance and American Idol the show was literally a full-time job) for like, four performances total. Also, nobody did her hair/makeup/costumes? Maybe Korean reality TV works differently, but if that’s the case I think Lee could have acknowledged that for her American readers. Again, it’s nothing wrong with the book, it just kind of jarred me out of the reading experience a little.
All in all, a SUPER fun read. Can’t recommend highly enough for fans of YA romances.