Title: Made In Korea
Author: Sarah Suk
Genre: YA Romance
A romantic comedy about two entrepreneurial Korean American teens who butt heads—and maybe fall in love—while running competing Korean beauty businesses at their high school.
There’s nothing Valerie Kwon loves more than making a good sale. Together with her cousin Charlie, they run V&C K-BEAUTY, their school’s most successful student-run enterprise. With each sale, Valerie gets closer to taking her beloved and adventurous halmeoni to her dream city, Paris.
Enter the new kid in class, Wes Jung, who is determined to pursue music after graduation despite his parents’ major disapproval. When his classmates clamor to buy the K-pop branded beauty products his mom gave him to “make new friends,” he sees an opportunity—one that may be the key to help him pay for the music school tuition he knows his parents won’t cover…
What he doesn’t realize, though, is that he is now V&C K-BEAUTY’s biggest competitor.
Stakes are high as Valerie and Wes try to outsell each other, make the most money, and take the throne for the best business in school—all while trying to resist the undeniable spark that’s crackling between them. From hiring spies to all-or-nothing bets, the competition is much more than either of them bargained for.
But one thing is clear: only one Korean business can come out on top.
Sarah Suk writes in the acknowledgements section that years before finally getting started on Made In Korea, she already knew that she wanted to write about teens who sold K-beauty products at school. Well, she did it—and I’m wowed, which is no surprise. What did come as a surprise was how I wasn’t aware that I needed to read such a book.
Who would have thought a beautifully–written YA romance about business rivals was exactly what I needed to pull me out of this funk? Who would have thought indeed?
I found myself completely in awe of Wes and Valerie—the male and female protagonists respectively. Watching them navigate seemingly unfamiliar waters and becoming more in–touch with their feelings was a learning experience.
Kpop and Kdramas have been a constant companion for years, so I literally light-up whenever they’re mentioned in a book. There’s something soothing about characters that mirror parts of a reader. Written in succinct and conversational prose, you might gobble this up in one sitting (I know I did!)
Witnessing how the characters fall in love with others; get a deeper appreciation for themselves and the world beyond them; wade through miscommunication and reach out with steady fingers to grasp their dreams are some of the reasons I will keep coming back to Young-Adult books.
1. If you genuinely like YA romance.
2. You’re into the Rivals trope.