Yes, you read that title right. I read a random contemporary in the middle of November…and now it’s a new favorite. My own reading habits scare me sometimes.
Upon staring at such a gorgeously illustrated, unfathomably adorable cover you might think “the story inside better live up to these impossible standards!”. And somehow, XOXO did.
We follow Jenny, a star cello player, and her wild night when she meets a boy named Jaewoo in her uncle’s karaoke bar. Fast forward a few months later when Jenny goes to Seoul to take care of her grandmother and guess what: that boy she met? He’s a Kpop idol from one of the most famous boy bands: XOXO and they’re going to the same school! I literally love this story so much ahhh.
Listening to the audiobook was so lovely because I loved getting to hear the Korean words naturally spoken, instead of just reading the romanized versions in the physical book. This is OwnVoices for the Korean representation, and you can totally see Axie Oh’s love for her culture come through in this story. It’s incredible!
Jenny and Jaewoo’s romance is perfect. It doesn’t move too slow, nor too fast. It’s just the right amount of cute but also tense because idol culture and dating are uh not particularly friendly towards each other. I was always like “ah! what if someone sees y’all!” and then immediately forgot about my fears because I was freaking out over something else (in a good way).
Before I forget, can I just say how much I loved the fact that Jenny plays cello? I mean, I don’t but it’s such a unique instrument to read about! Anyways, the point of this paragraph is technically to state that I would 1000% be friends with most of the side characters in this book. The other boys in XOXO and Jenny’s friends that she makes at Seoul Arts Academy are just so much fun.
The plotline doesn’t just revolve around romance either. There are fun school trips, performances, and visits with Jenny’s grandmother. Man, I would do anything for every contemporary story I read to be this perfectly perfect. I truly cannot think of another book where every aspect was just so fantastically done. If you enjoy Kpop, or if you just like good contemporary novels that give you so many warm feelings, I’d definitely recommend XOXO by Axie Oh! I’m also so excited for the fact that she has a new book coming out that’s fantasy…like what. Anyways, this is 5/5 stars! Have you read this one? You can order this one or add it to Goodreads and Storygraph.