By Gloria Chao
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Print Length: 320 pages
Release Year: 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Avg. Goodreads Rating: 4.0
Chloe Wang is nervous to introduce her parents to her boyfriend, because the truth is, she hasn’t met him yet either. She hired him from Rent for Your ’Rents, a company specializing in providing fake boyfriends trained to impress even the most traditional Asian parents.
Drew Chan’s passion is art, but after his parents cut him off for dropping out of college to pursue his dreams, he became a Rent for Your ’Rents employee to keep a roof over his head. Luckily, learning protocols like “Type C parents prefer quiet, kind, zero-PDA gestures” comes naturally to him.
When Chloe rents Drew, the mission is simple: convince her parents fake Drew is worthy of their approval so they’ll stop pressuring her to accept a proposal from Hongbo, the wealthiest (and slimiest) young bachelor in their tight-knit Asian American community.
But when Chloe starts to fall for the real Drew—who, unlike his fake persona, is definitely not ’rent-worthy—her carefully curated life begins to unravel. Can she figure out what she wants before she loses everything? (Goodreads)
Special thanks to Simon Pulse and Hear Our Voices Book Tour for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review and participation in this tour.
An emotional ride through the darker aspects of Asain culture in the United States, and the rift it can create between generations. Rent a Boyfriend follows the lengths a young woman would go to protect herself from a future she doesn’t want. In the process of doing so, she learns exactly what she wants, and what she has to do to have. This book is about sacrifice and how in excess it does more harm than good. Illustrating the importance of communication, and the battle to find stable ground among the generations. It’s an emotional ride, the ends with a breath of relief.
An absolute highlight of this book is the romance. Young-adult books have a tendency to fall victim to insta-love, and while there was immediate chemistry between the two romantic interest it wasn’t insta-love. Their love is visibly flawed and organic, making it a breath of fresh air. You see both of their sides, the feelings and thoughts that dictate their actions and the whole thing just makes sense. You root for them, not only because of their chemistry but because of their realness. The organic nature of the romance is this book is truly one of the best I’ve ever read.
I often found myself mad reading this book, not at the book itself but at characters within it. Chao does an amazing job showing the rift between Chloe and her family, and how truly detrimental their situation is. All the emotions Chloe goes through you can feel yourself and it seriously hurts. I think it’s a universal struggle, wanting your parents to be happy, but what they want for you isn’t exactly what you want for yourself. While I come from a culture considerably different, it wasn’t hard to find parallels between my experiences and that of Chloe and Drew.
This is a powerful book, that just so happen to have a happy ending. The way there is rocky but worth it. There is so much to be learned from as well, making this book an easy recommendation. This is a must-read.
Thoughts While Reading
- I was fascinated by the idea of “Rent for Your ‘Rents” and found myself wondering how such a business would work. Especially for female operatives, if there is such a thing.
- Hongbo made me utterly angry, I used many choice words in my notes related to him.
- The misogyny surprised me, but not that much after I thought about it. I related to it, actually. I really felt Chloe’s pain.
- I struggled alongside Drew with some of his decisions. The wants to help people and the moral struggle of living a lie.
- I learned some things about a culture that’s always fascinated me. And I continue to have a deep appreciation for many aspects of it.
- I loved the sheep, they’re so cute. When I can’t sleep I’m going yo start counting sheep.
- I took the time to sit and contemplate what I would do if I was in Chloe’s place. It actually made me sad what I found out about myself. But at the same time, I’m not surprised.
- I lost count of how many times this book gave me flashbacks to similar situations I’ve found myself in.