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Young Adult Fiction 405
sweet YA rom-com read
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ONCE UPON A K-PROM is an adorable and delightful YA contemporary. Elena is on a mission - she is trying to save the community center where she volunteers by trying to get other kids to forgo the trappings of prom and give that money to the community center instead. That plan is not going well and gets even worse when her childhood BFF, Robbie, who moved back to Korea when they were 10 and then became an international K-pop idol, returns to take her up on the promise they made when they were 10 to take her to prom.

Elena is still upset that he stopped speaking to her and did not give her his number when he changed it. She is wary of his sudden intentions and not at all impressed by the spectacularly public prom-posal, particularly since she's the quiet type. However, he may be able to help her with the community center. As they spend time together, all the feelings from when Elena was younger are resurfacing, and she can't help but crush on Robbie. Even so, it's tough for Elena to trust that he won't disappear on her or break her heart, and the stakes are higher now that she is older and falling for him harder than ever.

What I loved: This was such a delightful romantic comedy/YA contemporary read. It was impossible not to love Elena and Robbie together - they were such a sweet couple, and I loved the way their relationship built, with the background of their childhood BFF friendship. Elena is a compelling character - she's fierce, kind, and protective of her heart. However, her reactionary spirit has changed the way others react to her. As she is confronted with these problems, she does the work to make the changes and grows a lot as a character. Who she was at the beginning of the book is not who she is at the end, and this really made her into someone endlessly endearing.

The book is mostly told from Elena's perspective, but there are a few key sections from Robbie's point-of-view that show his struggles with the music industry, fame, and the rekindled relationship with Elena. These really added to the story and made him into a more full character than he would have been without these.

Themes around honesty, keeping promises, music industry challenges, the pressure of fame, friendship, family, and the value of community centers and volunteering were really strong throughout the book. While the focus is certainly on the charming relationship growing between Elena and Robbie, there is plenty else happening in the plot to make it a richer story. This is a book that manages to be sweet, swoony, and funny in all the right places - a great summer read!

Final verdict: A charming romantic comedy, ONCE UPON A K-PROM is a sweet summery read that is sure to leave readers grinning from ear to ear. Highly recommend picking this one up!
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