Made in Korea by Sarah Suk is the perfect read for those who enjoy the rivals to lovers trope. I loved the concept of rival K-beauty businesses, and the main characters are well-developed. This one also has the sweetest grandmother character, who makes the book even more special. If you’re looking for a tense yet feel-good read this spring, this is definitely one to pick up.Title: Made in Korea
Author: Sarah Suk
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 18, 2021
Frankly in Love meets Shark Tank in this feel-good romantic comedy about two entrepreneurial Korean American teens who butt heads—and maybe fall in love—while running competing Korean beauty businesses at their high school.
There’s nothing Valerie Kwon loves more than making a good sale. Together with her cousin Charlie, they run V&C K-BEAUTY, their school’s most successful student-run enterprise. With each sale, Valerie gets closer to taking her beloved and adventurous halmeoni to her dream city, Paris.
Enter the new kid in class, Wes Jung, who is determined to pursue music after graduation despite his parents’ major disapproval. When his classmates clamor to buy the K-pop branded beauty products his mom gave him to “make new friends,” he sees an opportunity—one that may be the key to help him pay for the music school tuition he knows his parents won’t cover…
What he doesn’t realize, though, is that he is now V&C K-BEAUTY’s biggest competitor.
Stakes are high as Valerie and Wes try to outsell each other, make the most money, and take the throne for the best business in school—all while trying to resist the undeniable spark that’s crackling between them. From hiring spies to all-or-nothing bets, the competition is much more than either of them bargained for.
But one thing is clear: only one Korean business can come out on top.
❃ I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. ❃
Review: Made in Korea by Sarah Suk
Young entrepreneur Valerie is the founder of a popular K-beauty business, the most successful business at her school. However, when a new student arrives, armed with his mom’s exclusive K-pop merchandise, Valerie gains a major competitor. Only one business can win the school-wide competition, and the stakes become higher when Valerie and Wes strike up an all or nothing deal: one of them will earn their combined profits, and the other will walk away with nothing. I love a story about rivalry, and the measures the characters go to in order to gain customers are so entertaining to read. I also enjoyed the K-beauty aspects, as this is something I’ve never read about before.
❀ Strong Characterization
The strongest part of the book is the characterization. Valerie is extremely dedicated to her business, but this is also her flaw. Because everything revolves around her business, in her eyes, she has a habit of pushing people away. Throughout the book, she learns about the importance of building relationships and truly changes by the end. Wes is also a fascinating narrator. He makes several mistakes, namely selling his mom’s products without permission, but, like Valerie, he faces consequences. Dual perspectives can be a hit or miss for me, but in this case, the narrations are distinct, which made this an effective tool.
❀ Enjoyable Family Dynamics
I also enjoyed the family dynamics. Valerie often feels like a disappointment compared to her sister, and the way this influences how she runs her business is well fleshed out. What I loved, however, is her relationship with her grandmother. The reason why Valerie is so determined to make money is so that she can take her grandmother to Paris one day. Halmeoni is so supportive of Valerie’s business, and their interactions bring a lot of sweetness to the story.
❀ An Entertaining Read
Made in Korea by Sarah Suk is an entertaining read about rivalry and real relationships. I loved the originality of the plot and the realistic main characters. Valerie’s grandmother in particular brings so much heart to the book. I would definitely recommend this one, especially to those who enjoy the rivals to lovers trope as much as I do.