Book Summary (From Goodreads)
“Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind?
With Maurene Goo’s signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.”
Earlier this month, I read Goo’s “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” and really enjoyed it so I figured I would give her other books a try!
I was originally drawn to this because it’s a YA summer romance that involves a food truck. If you don’t know, I’m a sucker for almost any book that revolves around, features, or generally spends a lot of time talking about FOOD.
I was optimistic and because I loved “I Believe In A Thing Called Love”, I figured this would be another easy win. Unfortunately, this one just didn’t do it for me.
I think the main problem was my intense dislike for the main character Clara – a real problem when she is the primary focus of the story. Historically, I’ve been able to enjoy books with characters I detest but there was just something about the brand of dislike I had for Clara that I really struggled to get through this book.
She was obnoxiously self centered, mean, overly dismissive and incredibly judgmental to everyone she perceives as “uncool”. Although she gained some redeeming qualities towards the end (we do love some character growth!), they were severely overshadowed, in my opinion, by her brashness throughout the bulk of the story.
Another big issue was Clara’s love interest, Hamlet, and really, their entire relationship. Hamlet felt quite two dimensional and ultimately just fell flat on the page. I don’t think he got enough time on the page to really flesh out who he was as a character so he sort of faded into the background. Not to mention, their entire relationship was filled with Clara internally making “excuses” for why it was okay for her to enjoy his overtly masculine qualities.
At one point, Clara meets Hamlet at his gym where she sees him boxing with his shirt off and she, internally battles with herself, saying, “My thirst for Hamlet came in waves. And right now, it was a straight-up tsunami. Why was I so attracted to him in this state? I tried to override the archaic sexist wiring in my brain.“
Like, girl. Get a grip.
He’s sweet and he’s hot and in good shape. You don’t need to make a statement justifying to yourself why you are checking out your own boyfriend.
We get it.
This happened so frequently it became annoying and every time it jerked me out of the story and seemed like it was trying too hard to drive home the idea that feminism and less stereotypical gender roles are okay – which they are. But you don’t always need to explicitly address that every single time the characters are together and something more stereotypically “normal” happens.
My Rating: 1 STAR
There were a few other issues I had, but I don’t want to bash this book and make it sound like it was horrible – because it truly wasn’t.
It just didn’t work for me.
The storyline was pretty unbelievable at almost every turn, the main characters were flat and self righteous. Although I can love unloveable characters and a ridiculous plot, there was just too much wrong that jarred me out of the flow of the story for me to become enveloped in what was happening on the page.
If you haven’t already read “I Believe In A Thing Called Love” by Goo, I’d highly recommend it if you are looking for another lighthearted YA romance.
I’ll still be interested to see what Maurene Goo writes in the future. To be honest, I’m not sure she’s for me yet, but I would be open to reading more from her before I make my decision.
Only time will tell.
Have you read this book? What did you think?
Let me know in the comments below! 🙂