Book Review: Made in Korea by Sarah Suk

Good morning! Can you believe it’s already mid-July? I hope you are all making a dent in your (socially distanced) summer bucket list! Nothing much happening over here, since I’m sensitive to the heat, so we’ve been doing nothing inside. Hope you’re all staying cool! Please enjoy this review of Made in Korea by Sarah Suk. 💕

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Title: Made in Korea
Author: Sarah Suk
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication date: May 18, 2021
Genre: YA Romance, Contemporary Romance

An incredibly cute romance between teen entrepreneurs and their competing school businesses

At a glance: Valerie Kwon is the star entrepreneur at school with her K-Beauty business and she wants nothing more than to finish her senior year strong and take her halmeoni on her dream trip to Paris. Until the new kid in class starts selling K-pop branded beauty products and steals her customers.

  • 💞 Young Love
  • 🌳 Family Focused
  • 📖 Couldn’t Put It Down
  • 🍃 Easy Reading

Read this if… you love a light enemies to lovers, if you are always cheering on the teen entrepreneur, if you love Korean beauty products, if you knew someone who ran a business out of their locker too.

Diversity Representation: Korean-American cast & Asian author

Content Warnings: some use of alcohol

Book Review

Sweet, fun, validating, easy-reading, business-oriented, fluffy, and cute

Made in Korea was definitely a nice, easy, fluffy, fun read. It’s another perfect beachy YA romance. I was immediately sold at the premise of two teenage entrepreneurs falling in love, but I didn’t expect it to be this delightfully breezy — in the best way! I thought it was so cute I read it in a single day! Sarah Suk made a wonderful YA romcom featuring Korean-Americans and it was downright delightful!

Quick Summary: Val is starting her senior year of high school with a booming business selling Korean skincare products out of her locker. She just has to keep doing what she’s doing and maybe she will be able to prove to her parents that V&C K-Beauty is more than just a cute hobby! That is until the new kid at school starts selling competing products and ruins her plans. Will these two business enemies be able to set aside their differences?

I loved how both Val and Wes were dealing with the high expectations of their parents. I especially loved how they both were dealing with it in completely different ways. It was really nice to be able to see two different perspectives of a similar struggle in the same book. The way that readers are able to compare and contrast the pressures of their parents was really wonderful to see. They each have different dreams, and neither of them is the safe stability that their parents want for them, but they both are willing to fight for it and risk the uncertainty.

One thing that wasn’t my favorite was Val’s personality. She was a bit annoying in her desperation to save her business, but at the same time, it was completely understandable. The way that we learn about how she was raised and the way her family treats her about her business make it easy for the reader to see why she is a bit annoying. It’s desperation to try to prove herself to her parents. Having a character remain likable, through annoying personality traits, is such an impressive balance, and I loved how Sarah Suk was able to create that. So though Val made some annoying decisions, the writing for it was well done! It really allows her to grow a lot by the end, and it was really nice.

Relatedly, I am always such a huge fan of the characters overcoming the high expectations of their parents and the communication that is involved to get there. I am never tired of parents explaining to their kids that the reason they have high expectations is that they want better than they had. It is so sweet and so important to read in YA books. It is such a comforting read and it never fails to make me cry. The family moments in this book did not disappoint!

Summing it all up

Made in Korea is a delightful YA romcom about Korean American teen entrepreneurs. It is a fluffy, quick, feel-good book that is a perfect easy read for summer. It was one of those books I just couldn’t put down until I was done, and I was smiling the whole time!

Book Club Questions:
Made in Korea

  • Did you or anyone you know run a small business in high school? How did it work for them? Did the school support them like they do in this book?
  • How do you feel about teens running businesses out of their lockers? Do you think that it is good for them to grow and learn or do you think that they should get a traditional job instead? Did you agree with Val’s parents view of her business?
  • What are some good businesses that teenagers can start? What lessons do you think this business could help teach teens? Would you (or will you) help your teen start a business? How could you help?
  • How do you feel about both Val and Wes’ parents pushing them to be traditionally successful? How do you feel Val and Wes both wanting to pursue non-traditional careers reflects how well their parents have been able to give them a better life? Do you think that it is proof that they grew up with a better life or a failing on teaching them the importance of finding a “steady career?”

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About the Author

Sarah Suk (pronounced like soup with a K) lives in Vancouver, Canada where she writes stories and admires mountains. When she’s not writing, you can find her hanging out by the water, taking film photos, or eating a bowl of bingsu. You can visit her on Twitter and Instagram @sarahaelisuk.

Sarah is represented by Linda Epstein at Emerald City Literary Agency.

Let’s chat!

💕 Have you added Made in Korea to your to-read list?
💕 Have you been looking for a sweet romcom beach read?
💕 Are you always rooting for the female business owners in books like I am?

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Want More Diverse Book Recommendations?

Check out the rest of my blog! I’m dedicated to sharing books with you that include diversity, so feel comfortable that any books on Bookish Brews will include some diversity.

If you liked this review or thought you might like this book, check out some of my other reviews for books with similar light, fluffy, fun, romances:

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A cute YA romance about two teen entrepreneurs?! I need to read it!

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