Title: Somewhere Only We Know
Author: Maurene Goo
Publication date: May 7, 2019
10 00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she’s just performed her hit song “Heartbeat” in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She’s about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She’s in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.
11 00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She’s very cute. He’s maybe curious.
12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.
Despite not loving Maurene Goo’s last book, THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL, as much as I loved I BELIEVE IN A THING CALLED LOVE, I was absolutely psyched for this book. It had so many tropes and things that were destined to make it a Mel book, including, but not limited to, a whirlwind over-a-few-days romance, celebrity romance (which is a thing I am a total sucker for), MUSIC and art, and set in a foreign country. I am EXTREMELY pleased to report that all these things did make it a Mel book, and I completely loved it.
My favorite thing about this book was its discussion of following your dreams and making the most of your passions. Both Lucky and Jack are somewhat struggling to follow their passions in this book. Though Lucky has technically achieved her dream of becoming a K-pop star, she’s struggling to feel the same joy she felt for it when she first started and doesn’t like all the restrictions her image brings. Jack is trying to follow his photography dreams and prove to his parents that they are worthwhile and that he can do it.This book really inspired me because its all about being true to yourself and what it means to live a “quality” life, which is something I’ve been struggling with since moving out on my own and not having time for a creative pursuit. Reading this book really made me want to pursue some of the creative ideas I’ve been having lately.
I also thought Jack and Lucky’s relationship felt really natural despite it taking place over the course of a weekend. I shipped them right away and really felt their chemistry the whole time. I liked that they had a lot in common but also had distinct differences in their philosophies on life so their connection wasn’t boring or contrived. I was also glad that there was conflict where Jack’s feelings for Lucky were concerned, because otherwise this could’ve been a boring romance. The way Maurene Goo chose to raise the stakes of their relationship with Jack’s tabloid job and using that as his motivation really amped up the conflict and suspense in their romance and added another layer to the story that really worked for me.
Additionally, I loved learning more about K-pop and that part of the music industry, and all the culture in the book in general. I don’t know basically anything about K-pop, and Goo painted a very clear and interesting picture of what it takes to be a K-pop star through Lucky’s story. Besides that, I loved learning about Hong Kong, which is a place I know pretty much nothing about. The setting was so wonderfully vivid, and there was so much FOOD, which is something I love in books in any genre. Basically, SOMEWHERE ONLY WE KNOW was a book I really felt and saw and heard and smelled and tasted and it was amazingly detailed and vivid in all aspects.
This book was utterly delightful and I really loved it. It inspired me to pursue some of my creative ideas, had a completely shippable romance, and made me super hungry. It was fun and uplifting and just made me smile. This is definitely a book I’ll be keeping on my shelf a long time, and I can’t wait to request it for my library so I can make all my teens read it because it is SO. GOOD. If you haven’t read a Maurene Goo book yet, you should definitely start with this one!