I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
Published May 30th 2017 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.
This book made me feel all smiley and fuzzy and want to watch all my favorite kdramas (The Moon Embracing The Sun!!! Also 10/10 would recommend Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo and Doctors and Strong Woman Do Bong Soon and ahhhh if you’re ever looking for recs just let me know!). BUT parts also made me want to bash my head against the wall.
I’ll ditch my usual review pattern and start with the good: I Believe in a Thing Called Love was a cute, fun read! It’s clumsy and quirky overall, and the highlight for me was definitely her relationship with her Dad. It was so natural and strong and just… really nice. Reading their scenes and their banter never failed to put a smile on my face. Loving father rep in YA, as far as I’ve seen, has been pretty dismal – I was really happy to read of a relationship like theirs.
And, okay, I spent the great majority of the book cringing and hiding my face in my hands (a portion of which was probably fully intended by the author, and the other portion just because I’m, well, me) and – no Desi why stop please don’t stop noooo. But in that good way, you know? That way by which you’re super invested in the story, regardless, in spite of, or maybe even because of all the cringing and excessive heaping of second-hand embarrassment. And then you reach the end and in spite of the raging fireball of disaster, everything works out! And you feel super relieved. It’s kind of like kdrama catharsis. I Believe in a Thing Called Love had that.
But. I Believe in a Thing Called Love had one glaring But: who plans a car accident? Who fakes drowning in a pool? In what world is that even remotely okay (and she planned TWO accidents)? I can get being desperate for a boyfriend and doing crazy things (I mean, I can’t really, but it happens?). But staging an accident? One that has real and serious consequences? That’s an entirely different issue. Which is entirely fucked up. I couldn’t get behind at all – not the way it started, not the way it played out, and not the way it ended and was resolved.
All in all though? I Believe in a Thing Called Love was up my alley – Asian rep and healthy familial relationships for the win! If you’re a fan of that over-the-top style asian kdrama – think The Heirs level – then this’ll definitely be the book for you.