Friends with ARCs: XOXO

July 8, 2021


XOXO is the latest young adult novel from author Axie Oh, and it was an absolute delight to read. Our heroine Jenny is a cello prodigy who is working hard to achieve her goal of going on to study at a prestigious music conservatory. One night, she encounters the mysterious, handsome Jaewoo in her uncle's LA karaoke bar and the pair end up going on a spontaneous adventure together. Jenny never thought she'd see Jaewoo again, but three months later, when she and her mother travel to South Korea to help out her grandmother, their paths cross at the elite arts academy she'll be attending for the semester. Turns out Jaewoo isn't just a fellow student there; he's also a member of one of the biggest K-pop bands in the world. The pair have an undeniable attraction, but what does that mean for their futures -- together and individually?

XOXO charmed me particularly because it reminded me of the boy band fan fics I used to read and write (though very much leveled up and better written). I enjoyed the fantasy of a celebrity falling for a "regular" girl, especially with how the author allowed readers to see the real Jaewoo outside of the limelight in tandem with his K-pop reputation. Oh dug deep into how celebrity could make a relationship difficult, and the obstacles and difficult choices they were presented with felt quite true to the situation. But even though there were some tough times, the romance between Jenny and Jaewoo was so good! I love how their relationship developed, and the swoony moments were *chef's kiss*. 

Apart from the romance, I appreciated the setting (seriously, this book is another one that made me want to go to Seoul one day!), the look at the journey towards becoming or being a K-pop celebrity, the friendships (I loved the group of friends Jenny makes while at school, especially her relationship with her roomie), and the familial aspect (especially with her mom and grandma). But the other highlight of this story was how Jenny was challenged to view her future and her life with fresh eyes by her experiences in Seoul and the people she meets along the way. I'm always a sucker for a 'coming of age' type stories, and this one felt uniquely shaped due to the elements incorporated by the author.

XOXO was a light-hearted story that made me laugh, swoon and also tugged at my heartstrings. It's exactly the sort of YA contemporary I gravitate towards, especially in the summer! I definitely think Axie Oh has done a wonderful job bringing the elements of this story together and would highly recommend checking it out for yourself.

(P.S. If Axie ever felt like writing a story about the other members of the band, especially Nathaniel, I would not be opposed. In fact, I would be thrilled actually!) 

What was your first experience living with a roommate at school? When I started my freshman year of college, it was also my first time living away from home and in a dormitory. I was lucky and ended up rooming with three people: one of my best friends, a schoolmate from my hometown and a girl from a different province. We were roomies until we graduated, and went through so many things together in our four years at school that bonded us for life. We're still very close as adults (even though we live in separate countries/cities now)!

(P.P.S. Axie has this super cute art card that she's sending as a preorder incentive as long as supplies last. I love it so much, so don't forget to submit your info here.)


Pub Info: July 13, 2021 by HarperTeen | Add it on Goodreads
I received an e-galley from the publisher on Edelweiss for review.

1 comment

  1. This was a book I really want to read! I'll definitely get it for my school library this fall. Glad to hear it was good! My first experience living with a roommate was college at University of Central Missouri. My first roommate and I didn't really click, not in a bad way, but she was 24 and coming back to school and I was 18 and on my own for the first time. I joined a sorority that year and my next roommate was my best friend that I met in the sorority for the rest, or most of the rest of my college career there.
    Lisa Loves Literature

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