Book Review: 29 Dates by Melissa de la Cruz

29 dates.jpg29 Dates

Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Publisher: Inkyard Press (December 18, 2018)
Kindle edition, 400 pages
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Summary
How many dates will it take to find The One?

Jisu’s traditional South Korean parents are concerned by what they see as her lack of attention to her schoolwork and her future. Working with Seoul’s premiere matchmaker to find the right boyfriend is one step toward ensuring Jisu’s success, and going on the recommended dates is Jisu’s compromise to please her parents while finding space to figure out her own dreams. But when she flubs a test then skips out on a date to spend time with friends, her fed-up parents shock her by shipping her off to a private school in San Francisco. Where she’ll have the opportunity to shine academically—and be set up on more dates!

Navigating her host family, her new city and school, and more dates, Jisu finds comfort in taking the photographs that populate her ever-growing social media account. Soon attention from two very different boys sends Jisu into a tailspin of soul-searching. As her passion for photography lights her on fire, does she even want to find The One? And what if her One isn’t parent and matchmaker approved?

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3_5stars
Rating: 3.5 stars

Review
I don’t 100% love the way this is set up. The prologue opens with Jisu on her 29th seon, or arranged date. Then chapter one starts at the beginning of the school year in Korea with Jisu getting in trouble with her parents and being sent overseas to study. The next chapter is a transcript of seon #1, which happened back in early summer. It’s followed by another present-day chapter, then flashes back to another date transcript that happened earlier. Somewhere around mid-book the transcripts from the dates catch up to the present-day actual story being told in the chapters, and it was just really disorienting to suddenly have the seon chapters be happening in the same timeline as the actual story content, where before they’d been (cute but not super relevant to the story) flashbacks.

That being said, I really liked the story itself. I love Korean food and this book was really bad for my wallet! I kept ordering delivery from my favorite local Korean restaurant because every time Jisu goes to Dave’s house in the book and Dave’s mom feeds her, it made me really want to eat Korean food!! 😀 I do like that Melissa de la Cruz noted in the afterward that seons are typically set up for people in college/early 20’s and she took some artistic liberties to have a matchmaker that arranges dates for high society high schoolers.

I loved reading about Jisu’s journey to make new friends and find herself in a new country, and really enjoyed that focus more than her romantic storyline (at least until the end, when I got WAY MORE into the romance plot!) This was a quick, fairly light-hearted read that at the same time deals with some real issues. It was enjoyable, but really mostly made me hungry!

An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for review. All opinions are unbiased and my own.

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