New Release Friday – I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee

I’LL BE THE ONE by LYLA LEE

A REVIEW BY ALEXA DUNCAN

I make no secret of this, dear readers: I am a K-pop fan. K-pop, short of Korean pop, is a huge part of my life. I’ve seen BTS in concert twice! I saw SuperM in concert last year! I was supposed to go to another concert this summer before, you know, everything happened. My point here is this: K-pop is one of my favorite things and I’m a huge fan. So, when I saw that I’l

I'll Be the One by Lyla Lee

l Be the One was going to be published, I completely lost my mind. Why? I’ll Be the One is a YA contemporary centered around K-pop. Starring Skye Shin, our intrepid protagonist, I’ll Be the One follows her journey through a reality show competition to become the next big K-pop star/ Here’s the kick: Skye is fat. She identifies herself as such and is constantly criticized for her weight. She doesn’t care, though, and is determined to be a role model for other girls through this television show.

This being a contemporary, the plot of I’ll Be the One is fairly straightforward. Girl joins TV show, girl has a love interest, girl overcomes some challenges, the ending is fairly happy. This is what we’ve come to expect with these lighter contemporaries and I, for one, am grateful for their predictability. What matters is how these novels take this plot structure and make it different enough for readers to care. This is where I’ll Be the One shines. It’s a YA contemporary about a fat, bisexual Korean-American girl who is refreshingly unapologetic about who she is. I loved reading about Skye and her journey and this book si the perfect getaway for these weird summer times we’re living in.

In addition to Skye herself, we have some fun side characters: All of Skye’s friends are nice to read about–they are always supportive–and then there’s Henry Cho, social media star and Skye’s rival. Henry quickly turns into the love interest, however, and he’s such a nice young man that you just want to= reach through the book and pinch his cheeks. In addition to Henry and the TV show plots, the book also discusses Skye’s complicated relationship with her mother. I liked how their relationship wasn’t tied up in a neat little bow. It was messy and real and I really enjoyed reading it.

Bonus points if you’re a K-pop fan like me: This book is RIDDLED with K-pop references that had me yelling at my copy of the book in delight. Yay!

If I’ll Be the One sounds like the one for you, you can find our copy at the Argenta Library today!

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