Summary: Every Friday after school, seventeen-year-old Alice Choy and her little sister, Olivia, head to Myeongdong to sing karaoke. Back in San Francisco, when she still had friends and earthly possessions, Alice took regular singing lessons. But since their diplomat mom moved them to Seoul, her only musical outlet is vamping it up in a private karaoke booth to an audience of one: her loyal sister. Then a scout for Top10 Entertainment, one of the biggest K-pop companies, hears her and offers her a spot at their Star Academy. Can Alice navigate the culture clashes, egos, and extreme training practices of K-pop to lead her group onstage before a stadium of 50,000 chanting fans—and just maybe strike K-pop gold? Not if a certain influential blogger and the anti-fans get their way . . .
My thoughts: Books featuring music will probably always catch my attention since music has been a big part of my life and it continues to be important to me. I’m sure that many readers will connect with that passions for music even if K-pop isn’t their genre of choice. Another universal part of this story is how complicated it can be to begin new relationships–especially when you are the new person or the one who seems different. She’s stepping into a school filled with people who already have their groups. Some of the students have even been training for seven years or more.
Alice has a training schedule, academic classes, new people to meet and K-pop culture to navigate. There are all of the typical high school issues for her to deal with along with an entire professional life on top of it. And to make things more of a challenge, Alice has a difficult time asking for help or admitting faults. Watching her fumble through this experience is hard, but so incredibly relatable. She had me laughing, cringing, and also had me tearing up a time or two.
Recommendation: Get it soon especially if you are a K-pop fan or even if you just enjoy a good contemporary story about friendship, identity, and working towards a dream.
Publisher: Walker Books US
Review copy: Digital ARC via Edelweiss
Availability: September 14, 2021
For related titles, check out K-Pop in YA Lit blogpost Here at Rich in Color