*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: I Guess I Live Here Now
Author: Claire Ahn
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 24, 2022
Melody always wanted to get to know the Korean side of her Korean American heritage better, but not quite like this. Thanks to a tiny transgression after school one day, she’s shocked to discover that her parents have decided to move her and her mom out of New York City to join her father in Seoul—immediately! Barely having the chance to say goodbye to her best friend before she’s on a plane, Melody is resentful, angry, and homesick.
But she soon finds herself settling into their super luxe home, meeting cool friends at school, and discovering the alluring aspects of living in Korea–trendsetting fashion, delectable food, her dad’s black card, and a cute boy to hang out with. Life in Seoul is amazing…until cracks begin to form on its shiny surface. Troubling family secrets, broken friendships, and a lost passion are the prices Melody has to pay for her new life, but is it worth it?
Boy, am I ever ready to hop on a plane to Seoul and spend the next few months discovering this city. If it’s anything like what I’ve read in the last few books, I’m ready to start travelling! Seoul here I come!
I loved this sweet story of the creative and passionate Melody. Having grown up in the States, she’s out of touch with her Korean culture to a large extent, so when her mom (whom she’s always been tight with) decides that she’s moving the two of them to the other side of the world, Melody is rightly shocked. She grew up with her parents living separately. With her father visiting every six months at most, Melody never got the to know him beyond a surface level, and certainly not as a true parental figure. Now, they’re moving from their humble apartment to the luxurious condo owned by the father that Melody barely knows. Her whole life uprooted, Melody now is caught between pursing the passions that have driven her for years, to becoming the obedient and doting daughter that her family expects her to be.
This is an excellent coming-of-age story of a young girl full of life and passion. She is driven, intelligent, and so creative. However, she’s not exactly what her father and grandparents in Korea would exactly call successful. The creative arts are discouraged in her family, and she is expected to follow in the paternal footsteps towards becoming a lawyer. Yuck! Through the experience of relocating half a world away, Melody loses and finds herself again, embarking on a journey to uncover her true self. She learns what is worth fighting for and how hard work, dedication, and a level head can lead to productive and fulfilling conversations. Melody grows up in Korea and truly finds her voice.
I really love this story. A mix of romance, friendship, Kdrama, family, and soul-searching, it’s a refreshing and fun read. The characters are all endearing and Ahn is a talented writer with a knack for vivacious and full-bodied secondary characters. This is her debut, and it’s an impressive one at that. It’s sweet, happy, and a truly endearing read. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.