Made in Korea by Sarah Suk // Book Review

Is there anything more fun than a contemporary YA romance with a bit of identity, forging your own path, and really coming-of-age? Probably! But if you’re looking for something upbeat with a bit of conflict and whole bunch of K-beauty products, then this is the book for you.

Here’s More about Made in Korea

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.

My Thoughts

I really loved this one. It was a fun little YA contemporary story that is perfect for the summers and most important, summer vacation. It’s got an upbeat feel to it and even the conflicts that these kids came across throughout the story weren’t too overwhelming. It’s light and airy with a bit of conversation about identity, but ultimately a fun treat when you need a break.

As I mentioned, the conflicts in this novel were real conflicts, but still light and fun. Making a bet to see who’s K-beauty business will win at the end of the year sounds like a fun but serious endeavor and the kinds of havoc it wreaked on both Valerie and Wes weren’t the kinds that would threaten their lives or put them in danger. It was more about trusting each other, having good senses, and avoiding the urge to cheat.

I loved the characters the most. Valerie is this very determined person who’s had a K-beauty business working out of her school locker for the entirety of their high school career. She’s finally at the home stretch when her rival, Wes Jung, comes into town with some unique products of his own. I was so surprised that these teens had their own business and had the blessing of their school to run them. I didn’t even know programs like that existed and honestly, I wish I had one for myself. Valerie felt like someone I knew at my old job who has the head for business. I love that she knows what she wants and driven to get it. I also loved that despite feeling like an adult, she still made mistakes and there was still a lesson for her to learn.

I also really enjoyed Wes. I resonated a lot with him especially when I was younger and also a musician and wanted to do something with that world. His hard conversations with his family also reminded me a lot of the ones I had as a kid. It’s tough to tell your immigrant parents that you want to pursue a career that won’t make a lot of money if you’re not successful. I wholeheartedly felt what Wes felt and rooted for him to have that hard conversation with his parents. But I also loved that it wasn’t all hard work for him. He still had his interests, his own friends, and even someone he was into. He felt rounded out and not just the music geek who wanted to overcome his obstacles.

Overall, this was such a delight and I truly enjoyed every second of it. I can’t wait to see what else Sarah Suk puts out because I think I’ll definitely read more from her.

Thanks Simon Teen for a gifted copy of this book. My opinion hasn’t been influenced by the author or the publisher.

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