Book Review

I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee

Genre | YA Contemporary Fiction
Page #s | 328
Publishing Date | June 2020

The world of K-Pop has never met a star like this. Debut author Lyla Lee delivers a deliciously fun, thoughtful rom-com celebrating confidence and body positivity—perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Julie Murphy.

Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.

She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.

When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.

But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself.

Goodreads

I am not (yet) into K-Pop, but I am very much into empowered teens chasing their dreams (and their crushes) while crushing their haters. I’ll Be the One is a super cute book about challenging fatphobia in Korean American culture, family support, and some good ol’ fashioned YA romance.

Skye is one of my favorite protagonists. She is the exact opposite of me, since she uses people’s verbal and nonverbal judgements as fuel for her own awesomeness. She’s a size 16 in a culture that thinks size 2 is too big, but she’s an amazing dancer and singer, so she auditions for a TV idol competition. The female judge constantly gives her a hard time about her weight (it feels like a meaningful acknowledgement of how women often police ourselves to a higher standard), but Skye continues to outperform her contestants and stands up for herself on national television in some really triumphal fist-to-the-sky moments.

Along the way, Skye becomes friends with a lesbian couple, cutely acknowledges her bisexuality because she was checking one of them out, and then falls in love with Instagram star Henry Cho. You know how YA romances are so often ridiculous, but some of them are unbelievable in just the right way? This is one of the good ones! I loved watching them become friends, flirt, and evolve into something more. Bonus points for a double-bisexual couple!

This is a purely fun, delightful, inspiring book, and I hope everyone reads it!

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

I’ll Be the One is the perfect weekend read for when you want to tear through a story with a grin on your face.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Check out our Queer Lil Library for more book recommendations and reviews!

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