Book Review: XOXO by Axie Oh

Good morning! I’ve missed posting this week so I have missed all of you, but it’s because I was at FIYAHCon! If you haven’t heard of FIYAH Literary Magazine or FIYAHCon, it’s absolutely something you need to check out immediately. They do incredible work over there and they deserve as much recognition as possible. I highly encourage you to subscribe, follow their social media accounts, or just check them out. at the very least, go read about their mission to uplift Black authors.

Back to regular programming, I’m here to share with you a review of one of my favorite YA contemporary romances that I’ve read ALL YEAR. Yes, it’s really incredible. I absolutely loved this one. Please enjoy this review!

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Title: XOXO
Author: Axie Oh
Publisher: publisher
Publication date: July 13, 2021
Genre: YA Romance, Contemporary

A surprisingly sweet k-pop secret romance about finding your second home

At a glance: Jenny lets her guard down and takes a spontaneous night out with mysterious Jaewoo, only for him to disappear without a word. Three months later, she travels to Korea to take care of her grandmother and finds out she is attending the same school as Jaewoo. What will he think?!

  • 🍃 Easy Reading
  • 📖 Couldn’t Put It Down
  • 💞 Young Love
  • 🎓 High School

Read this if… you love high school romances, if you listen to k-pop, if you are looking for the sweetest romance you’ll read in a while, or if you love reading about music schools!

Diversity Representation: OwnVoices Korean & Korean American Cast

Content Warnings: chronic illness, cancer, death of a parent (past)

Book Review

Sweet, exciting, comforting, heart-warming, fun, feel-good, adorable

XOXO was one of my favorite contemporary romances that I’ve read all year, and I’ve read a lot. I knew it would be sweet going in, but it surprised me just how delightful it could be. Every moment of this book made me so happy. This book is not just a love story between Jenny and Jaewoo, but a love story between Jenny and Korea and her music. It is a love letter to Kpop fans and an exciting secret romance. I devoured this book so quickly, I just couldn’t put it down.c

Quick Summary: Jenny has been working her entire life to get into a prestigious music conservatory. She is calm, collected, and immensely skilled. When her uncle tells her to live a little, and the very same night a mysterious boy named Jaewoo walks into her uncle’s karaoke bar, she lets her guard down and lets him pull her into an unforgettable night of spontaneity before he disappears. Three months later, Jenny goes to Korea with her mom to take care of her grandmother, and finds out that Jaewoo attends the same school as her… and he’s a famous up-and-coming k-pop star!

This story has such an incredible way of showing you multiple groups of friends who care about each other so deeply. We get the pleasure of seeing this in multiple friend groups, and it’s incredibly heartwarming. XOXO as a group look out for each other in every way possible. They make sure they are making the right decisions, that they are happy, and that they are hanging out with the right people. We also get that tight-knit, supportive friend group with Jenny’s friends. I think that sometimes friend groups in fiction can be so underrated. Especially ones that are not built out of trauma and especially in more realistic fiction. We all love a found family in our fantasy stories, but finding a found family in a high school fiction can be such an incredible impression on school-aged kids. I am so happy we get to see it here.

A Personal Note

Speaking as an Asian American like Jenny, her story made me so happy. The stories that I usually see are full of struggle and not belonging. Though those stories are not unrealistic, they are not always the most joyful to read. Jenny’s journey to Korea touched my heart because when she went she fit right in. She didn’t have many struggles finding friends, she spoke Korean already, she truly found a home away from home in Korea. I found myself getting emotional at her experience, wishing that could happen for everyone. As a member of the Asian diaspora, there can be this feeling of intense longing for a place you have maybe never been. But of course, there can also be a fear that you will not find your home in the place that you have felt drawn to your whole life. As a mixed Asian woman, I know that I will never find what Jenny found in Korea quite so easily, but seeing her find that place so easily made me realize that it is possible.

Summing it all up

XOXO is a love story not only between Jenny and Jaewoo but Jenny and Korea. I was giddy reading this book and I couldn’t put it down one second. The heartwarming friend groups, the sweet romance, and finding a home away from home is the perfect recipe for an incredible comfort read.

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About the Author

Axie Oh is a first generation Korean American, born in NYC and raised in New Jersey. She studied Korean history and creative writing as an undergrad at the University of California – San Diego and holds an MFA from Lesley University in Writing for Young People. Her passions include K-pop, anime, stationery supplies, and milk tea. She currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada with her puppy, Toro.

Let’s chat!

🎶 What was the last YA Contemporary Romance that you read?
🎶 Have you been eyeing this book?
🎶 Do you love k-pop!?

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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 sweet contemporary Asian romance vibes:

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Added to my TBR: XOXO by Axie Oh! It looks so cute!

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