Skip to main content

Rent a Boyfriend YA Book Reivew

 

Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao

Overview: Chloe has a big problem. She's convinced her parents she has a rich, smart, perfect boyfriend that doesn't actually exist so she doesn't have to accept Hongbo's proposal. When she needs this dream guy to appear, she turns to Palo Alto's premier service, Rent a Boyfriend, that specializes in giving you the perfect brand of boyfriend to suit your Type A, B, or C parents. Drew works for Rent a Boyfriend to support himself after he dropped out of college and his parents cutting him off. Drew is perfectly charming, empathetic, and in tune to the clients needs. But, as it tends to happen with fake dating, Chloe and Drew start to fall for each other. Drew is forced to reconcile breaking company code with his feelings, and Chloe is left to wonder if she's fallen for the real Drew or the perfectly tailored lie that is Andrew. Overall: 3.5

Characters: 4 I like Chloe and Drew. They're adorable, and I ship them together for sure. Chloe is super relatable. She's always been caught between pleasing herself and pleasing her parents, and she'll go to great lengths to spare their feelings. They don't even know she goes by Chloe instead of JingJing to everyone else. The arc of her story is truly about coming into her own and finding a balance between her parents' will and her own. It's a truly complex and compelling journey that is important to show in books. It's something that a lot of young adults go through that isn't showcased in YA all that often because at 16/17 you're still reliant on your parents. I believe Chloe is 19, but regardless, she's been out of state at college, which draws the lines of independence. Drew, who's been on his own for a while and put his beliefs over everything, and shows Chloe an alternative path. She wants to settle somewhere between.

Drew is the oldest main character in YA (I think) I've encountered as a YA love interest. He's already 21 in the book. This is uncharacteristic for YA but works for the plot considering the person Chloe's parents are trying to get her to marry is six years older than she is. Making him old enough to be in college with her age wise but also be supporting himself works well for the narrative. He's charming and sweet. You can tell that he's in Rent a Boyfriend for the chance to learn and help people. That's definitely admirable. Despite being a true adult, Drew is truly still going through the typical YA journey. He's figuring out whether he wants to reconcile with his parents, he's scared to take his art serious but also wants to, and he's feeling completely lost in general. As much as I related to Chloe in my fear of everyone's perception of me, I relate to Drew most as an artist who's also scared of what it means to pursue art. Also, I like that Drew contrasts Chloe in the way they look at their Chinese heritage. Chloe has always felt the need to distance herself from Chinese culture because her community is always so competitive and cutthroat. Drew grew up with a very loving community that was always focused on helping everyone succeed, so even with his rift with his parents, he's accepted his Chinese heritage into his daily life more, like interspersing Mandarin words with his English to make a point and allowing it to heavily inspire his art. At first, Chloe doesn't understand why he'd want blend them so much when she's always found her Chinese and American sides at odds, but she comes to admire it. 

Then there's Chloe's family. Her father is stoic and a bit removed, and her mom is very bossy and always thinks she knows what's best for Chloe. Though she's admittedly against premarital sex, one of her main tropes in the book is constantly pushing lingerie on Chloe. She doesn't get why Chloe won't wear make-up or just say yes to Hongbo's proposal that would come with the massive fortune her mother craves. They're both hardworking dentists, and if Chloe doesn't end up with Hongbo, they seem to think she should marry some kind of medical professional. They're set in their traditional ways and beliefs, and they find it hard to understand where independent and strong willed Chloe is coming from. I like how they evolve through the book to get to a better but not totally fixed place. Chloe finds the right amount of distance, and she does achieve a promising shift with her parents. There are some really beautiful, vulnerable moments with both of her parents where they let Chloe in a bit more, and she starts to see where they're actually coming from. In every relationship in this book, the steps forward are logical and realistic. You won't find a too perfect ending.

Plot: 3 I figured this would be a condensed timeline book and just take place over the Thanksgiving holiday, but I was very wrong about that. The book starts at Thanksgiving but stretches on beyond Valentines Day. The book is sectioned off by holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Chinese New Year. The time she's in college in Chicago are filled with pages of texting or voicemails from her mother. For as much as we skim through her college life, we get a painstaking amount of detail for every visit home. We watch Drew, Chloe, and her parents through every single second of the trip. I wish the page time had been distributed better to show some of Chloe at college because it would've been cool to see her without the lens of her being around Drew or her family. The lack of those scenes made me feel like there was a giant hole in my image of Chloe. I wish the pacing had been a bit better or that the book had simply been shorter overall. 

Writing: 3.5 For as much as the book offers an intense amount of detail, it starts abruptly. It was more than a little disorienting to get into. I got into it much more as time went on, but I wasn't sold from the start. I like the easy voice and the funny moments, though it sometimes feelt a little forced. Sometimes the voice flowed perfectly, but other times there were definite stumbles. Also, like I mentioned in plot, the level of detail could sometimes get laborious for an overall light book. I enjoyed it, and I kept coming back, but I also wondered when it was going to end. This isn't really a criticism of this book specifically, but this book is nearly 400 pages, and I tend to believe that YA contemporary doesn't really need to go too far over 300 or 350 max. I feel like I probably would've given it a 4 if it had fallen more into that page range. I like the cute, quiet moments, but there were just a few too many major plot points to fit into one book. 

Also, I wanted to note that I would recommend this book to older YA readers over younger ones. While there's nothing super objectionable or that would shock a younger reader, the jokes and dynamics just read older than a lot of YA. I honestly think that's a good thing because I struggle to find books about characters in college and navigating the future just a bit closer to full adulthood than the average YA character. I'm glad that YA is starting to expand like this. 

Overall, though, I love the concept. It's super engaging, and I enjoyed learning all the intricacies of Rent a Boyfriend as a company. The author's note says it was inspired by real life practices in some Asian countries. There are pieces of applications and charts along with plenty of text messages and voicemails that are tons of fun to look through in the book. I'm a huge fan of books that include pieces that go beyond standard prose writing. 

More From This Author...

American Panda

Links of Interest:

I Would Leave Me If I Could: Halsey's Poetry Book

Perfect on Paper 

Together Apart

October Wrap Up

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Once Upon a Quinceañera

Once Upon a Quinceañera   by Monica Gomez-Hera Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an ARC so I could share my honest thoughts with all of you! Overview: Carmen hasn't graduated high school, even though it's the summer after senior year. When her senior project fell through, Carmen has to scramble to complete the project over the summer. That means no college (not that she applied) and no future plans beyond becoming a Dream (floating around in a Belle costume at children's parties) with her best friend Waverley. So maybe it's not the summer Carmen wanted, but it's fine. At least until her ex-boyfriend who ruined everything, Mauro, also shows up on the team and then they get assigned to work her nemesis and younger cousin's quinceañera, which becomes the big event of the summer. Nothing ever quite goes to plan for Carmen, does it? Overall: 4 Characters: 4 I enjoyed hanging out with Carmen for a while. She's super witty and cynical in a way that I

YA You Need To Read: April 2021

It's already April! School has been super super hectic, and I'm starting my old job as a bookseller again, so I haven't had much time for reading lately (ironic, I know), but I did want to talk about some books coming out in April that I can't wait to read (one day) that might inspire you to pick them up. I particularly can't wait for My Epic Spring Break Up! It's been on my list for a while now (I mean, look at that cover), but I also found some new books that hadn't been on my radar while browsing around the internet that I wanted to bring to your attention.  Let me know in the comments what April books you can't wait for!  Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Kahn  April 6th Zara has lived in Corpus Christi, Texas for a while. She's always dealt with the Islamophobia that's rampant in her high school, but when the star football player gets suspended, Zara becomes the target of a racist attack by the rest of the team that puts her and her family'

Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi: YA Book Review

  Yolk  by Mary H.K. Choi Overview: Jayne is in fashion school in NYC. Well, she's enrolled. It's debatable how often she actually attends. June has a fancy job in finance, or that's what everyone thinks. But when June gets cancer, the estranged sisters are pulled together because June needs Jayne's identity to get treatment. By pretending to be her sister to get the life-saving procedure, June is forced to come clean and pull Jayne back into her orbit. Though their relationship stays rocky, they're suddenly glued together, forced to admit that their respective glamorous lives are actually filled with roaches and trauma and missteps. Overall: 5+++ This book made me happy cry (that's never happened while reading) and sad cry. Characters: 5 The book is told from Jayne's perspective in an extremely close first person. This book has plot. Things happen in the way that life happens, but it's mostly just characters getting split open and probed for all their w

Olivia Rodrigo'a SOUR As YA Books: Track By Track

This list turned out to be much harder to make than I anticipated when I came up with the idea last week. I set out to match songs to SOUR because what goes better with an album written by a 17/18 year old than YA books, but it turns out that YA books are just too hopeful for this album. Unlike many of these songs, I couldn't find books where the characters ended the book totally despondent and broken up. It took a bit of brainstorming, but I think I found a book to match the essence of each SOUR track. Le me know in the comments which songs on SOUR are your favorite. Mine are "brutal", "favorite crime", "deja vu", and "jealousy, jealousy".  1. "brutal" : War and Speech   by Don Zolidis War and Speech just radiates the same badass, discontented with teenage life energy as "brutal". This was the first book that popped into my mind when I thought about making this post. Just look at the cover. Sydney's life has been fa

What's on my YA TBR: September 2021 Edition

September is always a magical, busy time in bookland because there are always a million books releasing to get ready for the holiday rush. That's how this list wound up featuring 7 books. There are a couple like Never Saw You Coming  and As If On Cue  that I've had my eyes on for almost a year, and then there are some new discoveries that I'm super super excited about. From heartfelt contemporaries to K-Pop to a musical anthology and a summer camp of animators, there's something for everyone on this list. I haven't been this excited about a TBR of books in a while, and I'm sad that with starting school, it'll probably take me a while to get through them, but I'm hoping my local library will pick up copies soon. Speaking of which, I have tons of new libraries to explore around campus! As always, I want to make it as easy as possible to preorder these books and connect with the authors who wrote them! If you click the link in the title of each book, it wil

Halsey's I Would Leave Me If I Could Poetry Review

  I Would Leave Me If I Could  by Halsey  I've started this review a couple times and scrapped all of them. I've written hundreds of reviews before, and this is the first time I have absolutely no clue how to review a book. It's not just because it's poetry. And it's not because I don't have thoughts on every single poem. I've read the book twice and scrubbed a million notes around her words and highlighted every poem on my second read through. I have so many favorites, and my heart feels like it's going to burst after finishing each poem. Halsey exceeded every expectation I had set to the high bar of her music. I almost feel like this book is too good for my review to remotely do it justice, so I don't even know where to begin.  This book is extremely vulnerable. Halsey has never held back on telling the ugly truth in her lyrics, but the poetry takes it so much farther. She has space to tell the entire story, fewer constraints than what will fit in

My First Time Trying a Book Box: Literati Luminary Book Club Review

I am incredibly excited for today's blog posts because I'm working with Literati to share my experience with their Luminary Book Club. If you've been keeping up with my posts, I recently talked about how book clubs are an amazing way to fend off a reading slump, especially when life gets super hectic, and even with a super long TBR, I've still felt lost when I go to pick out my next read. I'm so grateful to Literati for sending me a book box and sponsoring this post!  On top of feeling stuck with choosing what to read, I've also been trying to explore more genres and the world outside of YA. YA has been my home base for so long that I always get overwhelmed trying to figure out what I want to read in other genres. Luckily, Literati had just what I needed. I got the chance to choose from 13 different book clubs all curated by Luminaries who are amazing, award winning writers, thought leaders, and artists you most definitely know like Malala and her Fearless cl

Fresh by Margot Wood: YA Book Review

  Fresh  by Margot Wood Get a Copy (this is an affiliate link. purchasing through this bookshop link helps support indie bookstores and this blog at no cost to you) Overview: Elliot isn't really sure why she's going to college. It's the next step that people take in life, I guess. She also isn't sure why she's at Emerson. It sounded better than Ohio State. She has no plan, no clue and how to approach college life. Quickly, Elliot gets sucked into a whirlwind of all the worst college tropes- the endless cereal bar, hooking up with everyone in the Little Building, not paying attention in any of her that classes she doesn't really want to be in anyway... the list goes on. She quickly forms a tight group of friends on her floor, but even those connections get tested as the year progresses. Eventually, Elliot is forced to realize that she needs to care about the academic side of college, and she craves closer connections than a trail of hook ups. Elliot, like most co

Weekly Book Reviews and Recommendations: Week 5

This week has been a bit crazy. With a four day weekend because of Easter, I thought I'd get some extra reading done. Lo and behold, that's not exactly what happened. I was way busier than I thought I'd be, but better late than never, I guess. Anyway, I read three great books this week that were all very different but also very good in their own rights. "You Matter" 1) Girl In Pieces  by Kathleen Glasgow (406 pages)  This book was so beautiful and amazing that I had to write a Standout Review for it. I published that earlier in the week, and you can check it out here:  http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/04/standout-book-girl-in-pieces.html P.S. I Still Love You  by Jenny Han (337 pages) Overview:   P.S. I Still Love You  is the second installment of Jenny Han's YA series. (You can check out my review of the first book To All The Boys I've Loved Before  here:  http://www.readingwritingandme.com/2017/03/reading-reviews-and-recommendati

You'd Be Home By Now by Kathleen Glasgow: YA Book Review

  You'd Be Home By Now  by Kathleen Glasgow  I'm very thankful to the publisher for providing me with this ARC to share my honest thoughts on this book with all of you. Overview: Emory has always been the good one. The nice one. The easy one. The invisible one. Her older sister, Maddie, is gorgeous and talented. Her older brother, Joey, is struggling with addiction issues, and her parents saddle Emory with the responsibility of being his forever babysitter. No one thinks about Emory- ever. Which leads her to pick up a habit of stealing and collecting small things and hooking up with the high school baseball star next door to feel seen and important. While Joey is stuck on the rollercoaster of his addiction, his family is right there behind him, and as Emory struggles to keep Joey stable, she's also left to contend with her own precariously okay life. Overall: 5+ Characters: 5 Emory is maybe the most universally relatable teen character in YA. She feels unheard and unseen by