The Way You Make Me Feel – Book Review

Synopsis – Goodreads

From the author of I Believe in a Thing Called Love, a laugh-out-loud story of love, new friendships, and one unique food truck.

Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind?

With Maurene Goo’s signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.

The Great: Surprisingly I loved everything about the plot. I was taken down the long road of a beautiful coming-of-age story and all of the little facets and factors made me want to continue the journey. If you’re no stranger to my reviews, you know that I’m more interested in character-driven stories since I tend to connect with the characters first. But in this instance it was the opposite. 

Speaking of which, I loved the main characters! Clara, our MC (main character) and whose POV we read from, is everything you need and want in a feisty rebellious teenager package. At first I found her character to be just a tad bit bratty but it didn’t deter me from continuing the story. Her father Adrian was maybe my most favorite character of the entire book. Born in Brazil to Korean immigrants, then migrating to the Los Angeles area, he is the perfect mash up of multiple cultures. And seriously, I need to find a food truck similar to the KoBra in Atlanta. I am all about the fusion baby. Then we have Hamlet, the cute sensitive love interest who had my heart from the beginning and I loved learning more about him as the story progressed.

However Rose, Clara’s one-time mortal enemy turned friend is who stole the show for me. I will be honest and say that I may be a bit biased because I saw so much of myself both now and as a teenager in her. She’s smart, driven, has a good head on her shoulders and might possibly have a superiority complex. I really appreciated the way Maurene Goo wrote Rose’s character! And Goo’s portrayal of a black nuclear family was nothing short of amazing . So often we are stuck with the stereotypical ideal, because of course art imitates life. But the Carvers success, their stress on the importance of academics and being close-knit family reminded me a lot of my own and it was great to read. 

The Good: I don’t ever think I’ll get tired of Goo’s writing style. She unravels depths and layers of a story in such an effortless way. I live for her descriptions! And one thing I really appreciated with this particular book, is that she just said it like it is. When a black character skidded across the page, we knew. When a Korean or Chinese character popped up, we knew. The same for LatinX,  Middle Eastern, White etc. It was obvious because it was direct. No mincing of words. 

The pace was also very well done and timely. The highs and lows were sometimes predictable but well executed. 

The not-so good: As I mentioned before, Clara’s bratty-ness was a bit much in the beginning. I laughed at her wit but felt like she needed to calm down. However, upon finishing the book I understand how important her bratty behavior was to her character development. 

Overall, I genuinely enjoyed reading The Way You Make Me Feel! I even shed a few tears at the end. I recommend this book for lovers of YA Contemporary.

Although I read and loved I Believe in A Thing Called Love, this may be my favorite Maurene Goo novel yet! 

If you decide to pick this up make sure you read the author interview at the end of the book.