Hi friends! I’m finally back with another review! I’m really sorry that I’ve been a bit sporadic with commenting, blog-hopping, and posting as of late, but hopefully that’s over now! Anyways, let’s get on with the review!
A huge thank to Tor Teen for the ARC through a giveaway!
Warning: Contains family expectations, delightful banter, great romantic tension, skating (all kinds!), Korean pastries, and all the feels.
Fifteen-year-old, biracial figure skater Olivia Kennedy’s Olympic dreams have ended. She’s bitter, but enjoying life as a regular teenager instead of an athlete… until Jonah Choi starts training at her family’s struggling rink. Jonah’s driven, talented, going for the Olympics in speed skating, completely annoying… and totally gorgeous. Between teasing Jonah, helping her best friend try out for roller derby, figuring out life as a normal teen and keeping the family business running, Olivia’s got her hands full. But will rivalry bring her closer to Jonah, or drive them apart?
THIS PREMISE SOUNDED SO GOOD. I am always up for some good food in books, and hello, Korean pastries??? And romantic tension??? I was so hoping this would be at leas a four star read. Unfortunately, that just wasn’t the case.
Speed-skating! Like, I know nothing about it, but who doesn’t love watching the skating during the Olympics? While I did have some issues that I’ll talk about later, they were more character-oriented. The skating itself was really well-explained, and on the occasions when the passion of the characters came through, I could almost feel the ice and see the performance.
BAKING. Brandon is a character I really loved, and he has a passion for baking. We apparently have a shared love for brownies. And oh! There’s also Korean pancakes and like…they have brown sugar inside. I already knew they existed but when they were described I knew in that instant I needed one. There’s one scene in this book that I call blasphemy* where Olivia throws away brownies so she wouldn’t eat them because she’s in training. And they sounded so good too.
*yet everyone else would probably call good willpower…something i clearly have none of
Mack! There’s a character named Mack who is for sure my favorite. She takes no nonsense, is super cool, somehow manages to do life with a six-month old daughter, AND does roller derby. Plus, she plays matchmaker! I would like to apply for Friend Status. In all seriousness, her character is rather well-rounded. Her development is really well-done, and I could imagine her as an actual person.
I did like the representation of Olivia being a biracial Japanese-American teen, and Jonah apparently being 75% Korean, but sometimes I felt that we were reminded much too often of these facts. And not at times when cultural aspects were being discussed. Just random moments. Which leads me to…
oof. where to start…
Well, our main character Olivia for one! Her behavior was kind of erratic to say the least. And while I sensed the skating passion for Jonah, I got nothing from Olivia? She spends a lot of the book whining, reminiscing, skating for fun, and then suddenly she’s determined that skating is her future. She just didn’t feel three-dimensional to me.
Also, THE ROMANCE. When will authors learn that insta-love is nearly never the way to go? Literally, by like page 15, there’s already flirtation happening. Not only did Jonah and Olivia never have any chemistry, their relationship was lacking in so many ways. He highkey acted like a jerk sometimes, and Olivia was KSNJSKJSNJNJDJDKJW. IMPOSSIBLE. Both of them weren’t necessarily unlikable, they simply didn’t have anything discerning characteristics to make them likeable.
A lot of the book felt useless. I’m not entirely sure how to explain it. Random things would happen that I’m assuming were meant to add more depth to certain characters but it never quite worked. So that left the book feeling less like a character-driven story complete with skating and family and more like a lost book torn up in shreds and placed haphazardly around a map.
So that’s it! While I didn’t hate my time reading this, I was relieved when it was over? This is a book I’ll honestly forget. Tell me: do you like books about skating???