Book Review: Rent A Boyfriend by Gloria Chao

Book: Rent A Boyfriend by Gloria Chao

Published November 2020 by Simon Schuster Books For Young Readers|400 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before meets The Farewell in this incisive romantic comedy about a college student who hires a fake boyfriend to appease her traditional Taiwanese parents, to disastrous results, from the acclaimed author of American Panda.

Chloe Wang is nervous to introduce her parents to her boyfriend, because the truth is, she hasn’t met him yet either. She hired him from Rent for Your ’Rents, a company specializing in providing fake boyfriends trained to impress even the most traditional Asian parents.

Drew Chan’s passion is art, but after his parents cut him off for dropping out of college to pursue his dreams, he became a Rent for Your ’Rents employee to keep a roof over his head. Luckily, learning protocols like “Type C parents prefer quiet, kind, zero-PDA gestures” comes naturally to him.

When Chloe rents Drew, the mission is simple: convince her parents fake Drew is worthy of their approval so they’ll stop pressuring her to accept a proposal from Hongbo, the wealthiest (and slimiest) young bachelor in their tight-knit Asian American community.

But when Chloe starts to fall for the real Drew—who, unlike his fake persona, is definitely not ’rent-worthy—her carefully curated life begins to unravel. Can she figure out what she wants before she loses everything?

I really liked Rent A Boyfriend!  I really liked Chloe and Drew, and I really felt for both of them.

As much as I liked this book, and (some of) the characters, I found that I was angry at Chloe’s parents for most of the book.  I know they want to make sure she’s okay and taken care of and happy, especially in the wake of her dad’s illness.  She’s more than capable of taking care of herself, and she doesn’t need a guy to take care of her.  Of course, love’s important, but it’s sad they’re pushing her to someone she doesn’t want and who is pretty terrible person.  I’m angry that they didn’t tell her why they were pushing so hard for her to get married, I’m angry that her virginity was a selling point, and that not being a virgin would ruin her, and I’m angry that she had to rent a boyfriend so they’d leave her alone, only for them to still push her towards Hongbo.

It also makes me sad that this is something she needs to worry about and deal with.  She eventually tells her parents about Drew, and while it makes things really difficult between them, they do come around.  I understand why she feels like two different people and being ourselves around family can be really hard.  Especially with her parents, but she figure out what she wants and becomes honest about it, even though it’s really hard and it gets complicated along the way.

I like her and Drew together.  I loved their random conversations, and their text messages, and they’re just really cute together.  Meeting each other ended up being a really good thing for both of them.  It’s a really cute romance while also dealing with some pretty serious things.  There was a really good balance between everything.  If you like the fake relationship turning into a real one trope, this is a great book for you!

I’m glad we got to see his POV, because I really liked seeing how he saw things.  Don’t get me wrong, we spend plenty of time with Chloe, and I’m glad we do, but it was also nice to get a different take on things, and see how he saw her.  Also, I’m sad for Drew.  Chloe has her own issues to deal with, but so does Drew.  And it just made me sad that his parents cut him off just because he’s an artist, and wants to pursue that.  Also, the comparison to someone he didn’t know made me sad for him as well.

I totally want to use sleep loose from now on, by the way.  It’s totally random, but true!

I really liked Chloe, and I can relate to how insecure she is.  It’s no wonder she is, with all the things she’s heard over the years.  Words have more of an impact than people think, and though people might not mean to be hurtful or think they’re actually helping, it doesn’t mean that words don’t hurt, and that we don’t internalize it and start to believe it.  I think it’s part of why I was so angry on her behalf.  I really do hope that things get better between Chloe and her parents, and that they (but especially her mom) are more accepting of her.

4 stars.  I really liked Rent A Boyfriend.  I was angry and sad but also happy and this is a cute romance with some seriousness as well.  I’m glad I picked this book up!

Book Review: American Panda by Gloria Chao

Book: American Panda by Gloria Chao

Published February 2018 by Simon Pulse|311 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

An incisive, laugh-out-loud contemporary debut about a Taiwanese-American teen whose parents want her to be a doctor and marry a Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer despite her squeamishness with germs and crush on a Japanese classmate.

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

I absolutely loved this book!  This is easily one of my favorites from this year, and I think it’s one everyone should read!

I loved Mei, and she was so easy to relate to.  I think a doctor is not the best career path for her, and I’m glad she was finally able to speak up for herself.  It can be hard going against a plan that’s been set out for you, and going against family can be hard.  But Mei knew what she wanted to do, and took a huge risk in going against what her parents thought she should do.

I particularly liked the voicemails and emails we see from her family.  They are very much involved in her life, and I do like that they want what’s best for her.  They do want her to be successful, and while I don’t necessarily agree with some of their actions & behaviors, I do think they had really good intentions.

I felt so happy when I was reading American Panda, and something about it was comforting and warm, and made me want to hug someone.

*Random side note: I feel like I’d be one of those people you see walking around holding one of those free hugs signs.  Seriously, if I weren’t so anxious and shy, I’d totally do that.

Back to American Panda, though.  Mei is such an amazing character, and while she kept secrets for quite a while, you do see the toll it takes on her, and how hard it was to keep secrets from her family.  I also loved seeing how dance was something she loved, and how happy it made her.  Even though her parents weren’t happy with the path she decided to take, it did seem like she had some support in her brother and some friends.  And it also seemed like her mom started to come around as well, which I thought was huge, considering her mom really seemed to have very strong ideas on how Mei should live her life.

We really see Mei struggle with having really strict parents (which I can sort of identify with, but obviously not completely) and how she dealt with their values and beliefs and her own.  I laughed and smiled and quite honestly, I’m surprised I didn’t start crying.  This is not a crying sort of book, but I can be sentimental.

At any rate, something about this book felt very personal, like Chao had experienced what Mei had.  There is something honest and true about this book.  It’s heartfelt, and while I haven’t experienced what Mei did in this book, I did see parts of myself in her.  I feel like we would have gotten along really well, and she is someone I want to be friends with.  She has her flaws, but we all do.  That didn’t stop her from still being completely awesome.

5 stars!  Mei is awesome, and I couldn’t help but love this book.  It’s worth reading!