Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on May 18, 2021
Genres: Coming of Age, contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Source: Paperback ARC from Publisher
Frankly in Love
meets Shark Tank in this feel-good 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.
Made in Korea is a young adult contemporary romance by Sarah Suk. This book was the most adorable, feel good romance that I have read so far this year. I absolutely fell in love with these characters and their story. Plus, it made me want to attend their high school. I wish my high school allowed for student businesses because I would have loved some k-beauty popups at school. The only thing students at my school sold were magazines and candy bars. If you are looking for a feel good romance that will have you laughing, smiling and completely falling in love yourself, look no further than Made in Korea. Author Sarah Suk is one to watch out for. I can’t wait to read more books from her.
In Made in Korea we meet our main characters Valerie and Wes. Our story is told in dual narrative between these two, and I found each of their points of view super compelling and relatable. Valerie so clearly loves running her own business. She sells K-Beauty products(V&C Beauty) with her cousin Charlie. I personally loved to see the family bond between her and her cousin, and all of the products that they were selling sounded amazing. Everything is going well for them until a new student shows up at school and inadvertently starts to steal some of their profits and customers. Wes is a new student at school, and his mom works with a super popular K-pop band. When she sends Wes to school with some of their new merch, which just so happens to be in beauty products, the students go crazy for them and Wes finds himself starting a business in direct competition with V&C Beauty.
I loved Wes and Valerie. I loved that so much of the focus in Made in Korea was on Wes and Valerie as individuals. I feel like I really got to experience Wes’ love of music and Valerie’s relationship with her grandma. I loved comparing and contrasting their families and watching them each struggle with different forms of acceptance. And through that and through their bet to see which business could make the most profit, I also loved seeing the two of them grow closer. This romance was so cute, so satisfying and so darn relatable that I couldn’t help but fall in love right alongside Wes and Val.
If you are a fan of contemporary romances, of K-beauty/k-pop, or you are looking to add more own voices stories to your TBR, Made in Korea is a must read! I loved these characters and their story and I loved author Sarah Suk’s writing style. I can’t wait to read her next book. Made in Korea is a wonderful read that is full or heart. I loved this book.