About the Book

Title: I Guess I Live Here Now
Published: 2022
Swoonworthy Scale: 8

Cover Story: Before You Leave The House, Look in the Mirror and Take One Thing Off
BFF Charm: Heck Yes!
Talky Talk: Is This Real Life?
Bonus Factors: Fashion and Fun!, Tasty Business
Anti-Bonus Factor: Grumpy Grandparents
Relationship Status: Finger Hearts!

Cover Story: Before You Leave The House, Look in the Mirror and Take One Thing Off

I like the art style on the cover, albeit there is a lot going on; very on point for the book synopsis (girl dropped in a big overwhelming city). The book title would be easier to read if it was placed elsewhere or had a bigger bolder outline, and I don’t need a blurb from another author telling me how good a book is. It’s crowded but the colours catch your eye.

The Deal: 

16-year-old Melody Lee (or as she’s known by her Korean name, Solmi) and her mother live in New York City, and her father lives in Seoul. While Melody and her mother have a great relationship, the one with her father is almost nonexistent, save for a few trips he makes to New York each year. So it comes as quite a shock when her mother tells her that they are moving to Seoul to live with her father…in three days! 

Melody is thrusted into an extravagant lifestyle in Seoul: a large apartment, a personal driver, a private school and a personal credit card – a stark contrast to her life in Hell’s Kitchen.

She soon makes friends, explores the city and starts feeling comfortable with her new lavish lifestyle. Melody tries to navigate her new life and family as best she can while still holding onto the person she was in America.

BFF Charm: Heck Yes!

BFF Charm Heck Yes - sparklier and shinier than the original BFF Charm

I would definitely be best friends with Melody. She is so strong-willed, driven and talented! I would wander around Seoul or New York with her any day. She tends to be judgemental and hot-headed but not without good reason. Sticking up for herself, friends and family is what Melody does. Sometimes she oversteps, but she is 16. Most people my age could take a lesson from Ms. Lee, including me. 

Swoonworthy Scale: 8

Melody and her friend/crush Wonjae have excellent chemistry and Ahn writes their interactions so well. I was squealing with delight when their hands would touch or they would flirt. I won’t spoil it anymore because there are so many cute moments but Soljae forever. I am also just learning that Soljae is a city in South Korea so if this name mash up was intentional, I am impressed. Now taking recommendations for K-Dramas.

Talky Talk: Is This Real Life?

The family drama and coming of age story are perfect and realistic. Ahn’s characters reacted appropriately in conversations and were well developed. No eye rolling here! Every side character had a back story and I began to care about them more and more as the book progressed. Ahn navigated the awkwardness and eventual acceptance of Melody’s new life wonderfully. The conversations between her parents felt like ones I probably had with mine! …Minus the one where she was given a credit card by her father to buy a fancy dress for dinner. Ah, rich people.

Bonus Factor: Fashion and Fun!

Cityscape of Seoul, South Korea, at night

Ahn has lived in both Seoul and New York so it’s no wonder she is able to easily transport you into both cities. It’s like you are right alongside Melody experiencing everything magical Seoul has to offer. You are taken all over the city, from amusement parks to hanok (traditional and modern)! You get to learn about the food (there was a lot of references to food *drools forever*), Korean holidays, and city life! I know we are living the luxe life of Melody Lee in this book, but it makes you want to travel to Seoul so bad and do everything she has done! I wish there was a glossary in the back so I didn’t have to Google everything but it was fun to learn.

Bonus Factor: Tasty Business 

I longed for New York pizza and then was immediately longing for some fish cakes. Since South Korea is known for its food and fashion, it is no wonder that it gets mentioned so much in the book. Ahn does a great job of integrating fashion and food into the story so it’s not distracting, but you understand that it is an important part of Korean culture.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Grumpy Grandparents

Mama Fratelli from The Goonies

Not only are they controlling and condescending, they’re also cruel. Thankfully they are only in the book for a hot minute and we never hear from them again. I know Ahn put them in there to help you better understand Melody’s parents and the choices they made, but after an outburst by her at a family dinner, they weren’t mentioned again. I’m a little sad I won’t get any closure on this front but maybe there’s a Book Two coming?! One can dream.

Relationship Status: Finger Hearts!

I love this book. It is definitely one I will be referencing as I plan my trip to Seoul with my friends. I was so inspired by the culture and fell in love with it the way Melody did. 

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Penguin Random House. I received no money or fish cakes in exchange for this review. I Guess I Live Here Now is available now.

Literary Matchmaking

Flip the Script

For more K-Drama check out Flip the Script by Lyla Lee.

Tokyo Ever After (Tokyo Ever After #1)

For a another transcultural experience/rags to riches book, you’ll want to read Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean.

When You Get the Chance

For a New York setting and a driven teen read When You Get the Chance by Emma Lord.

Amanda Bell (she/her) is a planner of events, reader (and listener) of books, a consumer of pizza and a crafter of all things! Propelled by caffeine and carbs – she found her love of reading again when she started a book club with her friends in 2019. Since then, books have consumed her life and her TBR pile is outta control. Amanda resides in Edmonton with her husband and daughter.