Popsugar Reading Challenge category: A book about K-pop
XOXO, by Axie Oh
This is a sweet YA romance with a musical theme. Jenny, a Korean-American teenager in L.A., dreams of being a professional cellist. She meets Jaewoo at her uncle's karaoke place, and they spend a fun evening together before he has to go back to Seoul. Months later, Jenny and her mother temporarily relocate to Seoul to care for her ailing grandmother, and she spends term at a prestigious performing arts school. And there's Jaewoo: he's not only a student there, he's a member of a famous K-pop group whose star is on the rise. And one of the rules for group members is: no dating.
Like me, Jenny doesn't know a lot about K-pop, and it was interesting to hear about how the schools and studios create the groups, turning talented youths into idols (the term is used unironically by all the characters). We get glimpses of the pressures on very young people dealing with fame.
As often happens in YA, the adults are barely a presence. Jenny's father is dead, and the estrangement and reconciliation between her mother and grandmother are dealt with only briefly.
One thing I greatly enjoyed was the portrayal of friendships. Jenny and her roommate Sori have an enemies-to-best-friends arc, and there are other important friendships for Jenny, including Jaewoo's bandmates Nathaniel (another Korean-American) and Youngmin. Which sets us up nicely for the sequel, ASAP, which I hear will be about Sori and Nathaniel.