Once upon a time, I got The Way You Make Me Feel in a subscription box. I started reading it but put it down pretty early on. At the time I really just wasn’t feeling a contemporary read – I’m much more of a sci-fi/fantasy reader.
Recently I decided to give the book a go again and I’m so glad I did.
The Way You Make Me Feel
Author: Maurene Goo
Publication Date: May 8th, 2018
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Page count: 336
From the author of I Believe in a Thing Called Love, a laugh-out-loud story of love, new friendships, and one unique food truck.
Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind?
With Maurene Goo’s signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.
Anytime you have a book that has food as a central part of the book, you know I’m going to be there! In this case, our food star is the food truck KoBra – a Korean Brazilian truck owned and run by Clara’s father. The food descriptions were mouth-watering and Goo did a pretty good job conveying just how much work (and sometimes chaos) goes into running a food truck. That being said, I honestly felt like I needed more food in this! I also need KoBra to be in my town! We have a severe lack of anything Asian in our smattering of local food trucks.
Clara wasn’t an entirely likable character – and I liked that! Not all main characters need to be polished and relatable. She did things that were selfish, rash, impulsive, and at times even hurtful but I felt like when she did something that crossed the line, other characters called her out on it. A scene involving contaminating other food with pork comes to mind and shout out to Rose for calling Clara on her crap right then and there! And the growth we saw throughout the book with Clara was amazing. She really did become a better person by the end of the book.
Now Rose? Rose was someone I could relate to. An honor student with anxiety and a little too uptight at times? I really liked seeing her become more human to Clara as the book continues and learning more about her and her family. Also, I never really saw it mentioned anywhere as I went into this book but Rose is black, which meant that all the major characters in this book – Clara, Rose, Clara’s immigrant parents, and our love interest, Hamlet, were all PoC from a variety of backgrounds.
I think my favorite thing in this book though was the relationships between Clara and the other characters. With Rose we had a strong enemies-to-friends storyline and honestly? I feel like I don’t read these enough. I feel like the two balance each other out perfectly and by the end they both understood eachother and felt for eachother in a wonderful kind of way. These two becoming close made me so happy. I’ve heard a lot of people saying that this easily could have been written as a f/f romance and while I wholeheartedly agree, I’m also pretty happy that we had a strong female-female platonic friendship. I’m totally here for queer rep but yalls, a solid friendship is a pretty great thing too.
While Clara’s relationship with Rose was strengthening, we also witnessed Clara growing apart from her old friend group and while this is sad – this feels like an representation of how real-life is. As we grow up, we change and that change can lead us to drift from our old friend circles and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just is. And I feel this isn’t addressed a lot in things I’ve read. We hear all about friends who have been together since the beginning of time or pretty explosive friendship breakups but very little about drifting apart.
And my number one favorite thing about this book? Clara’s dad and her relationship with her dad. I think I can easily say, hands down, Adrian is my favorite YA father ever. The dynamic and respect between the two of them was great. Having had Clara at such a young age, I’m sure parenting wasn’t always easy for him but he worked hard as a single father and you can definitely tell how close the two of them are in the story. There are also some revelations towards the end of the book about his parenting that really show just how much he cares about Clara that really got to me. It really hit home for me because as an adult, I found out my mother did similar for me. I definitely cried. He definitely wins father of the year. I love him.
One thing I’d like to get on my soapbox about is that this book did have underage drinking in it. And while that’s not necessarily the end of the world for me (yalls, it happens – I get it), I didn’t really like how it wasn’t ever addressed by anyone in the book. Adults just sort of stood there and let it happen and it was even posted on social media. By adults. She was surrounded by adults and she did have a parent around so it wasn’t like it happened in an unsafe environment but everyone treated it like it was no big deal and there weren’t really consequences.
My only other major ‘complaint’ about the book is that while this was a romantic comedy, the romance was probably the relationship I was least interested it. Don’t get me wrong – Hamlet was a great character and I enjoyed his presence and he was even a good love interest – pretty cute one at that! It’s just that I felt the other relationships in the book were a lot better developed.
To end things on a high note, I’m just gonna gush a bit about how this book looks because it’s giving me everything. The wonderfully ombre cover is matte with glossy lettering and underneath, the book is a a pale robin’s egg blue with yellow lettering along the spine – gorgeous! Inside there are soft pink end papers and a matching headband. We also get a glimpse of the KoBra on the cover.
Overall, I truly enjoyed The Way You Make Me Feel and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a light read with a good friends-to-enemies story and delicious food moments. Also anyone looking for some good parental relationship content because I’m still not over the relationship between Clara and Adrian. It’s a book I can see myself rereading anytime I want some feel-good content.
Also, it looks really pretty on my shelf.