The Way You Make Me Feel — Maurene Goo (ARC Review)

May 5, 2018

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

TITLE: The Way You Make Me Feel
AUTHOR: Maurene Goo
RELEASES: May 8th, 2018; Farrar, Straus and Giroux
GENRE: Contemporary
SYNOPSIS: 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.


First of all, how gorgeous is this cover? Second, this was genuinely one of the most heartwarming novels I have read in a very long time, and I hope that every YA contemporary fan will pick it up and give it a shot!

I hated when my dad gendered the stupid truck. To retaliate, I called my boobs Brock and Chad, which my dad hated with equal fervor.


First of all, Clara is absolutely hilarious. She’s so awkward, and cynical, and weird, and her sense of humor is so similar to the way mine was at that age that I immediately clicked with her. She’s horribly sarcastic, to the point of obnoxiousness, because she doesn’t want to get hurt by the world around her, and that was a big part of my outlook on the world at that age, too.

I looked at Rose. “Let her tell the story. She’s really unbiased, like Fox News.”

Not only was her sarcasm so fun to read for me, but she’s constantly making these quips with quiet, tongue-in-cheek commentary on the current sociopolitical climate, as well as race issues and discriminatory struggles going on in the US, that I found myself more than once laughing as I nodded along to the points she made. Honestly, I could go on for a while about how much I just loved Clara all on her own.

Upon closer inspection, the Labrador was very good-looking. Not my type at all—I usually fell for guys who looked a little malnourished and tortured.

Hamlet, the Chinese teen who runs the coffee shop beside one of Clara’s father’s food truck stops, is so genuine and caring that it’s hard not to appreciate his character. He’s a little bit intense and insta-lovey, but the fact that Clara keeps a level head on her shoulders managed to balance it out for me. I honestly enjoyed the romance, more than anything, for how mature it was. For example, in most YA contemporaries, the love interest opening doors for another girl is going to be painted as sketchy, but in this book, Clara outright acknowledges the fact that she loves how polite he is (and the fact that “he would do it for a man, too” is icing on the gender-role-slaying cake).

“The first woman president has to happen in my lifetime, or I’m going to light this entire planet on fire.”

Next, enter Rose, who is the other half of one of the best enemies-to-besties friendships I have ever seen in any book. Things start off super volatile and I was worried it would be girl-on-girl hate all the way through, but they actually quickly find their rhythm, learn that neither girl is what they appear to be on the surface, and become the cutest little set of friends. Rose also provides a fantastic bit of talk regarding how tough it is to be a black woman in a world where she is always expected to look and act perfect, as well as how exhausting it can be to be the child of prominent community leaders and activists.

Sometimes teenagers really scared the crap out of hipsters. It was like their tenuous hold on “cool” was exposed around the truly young.

One of the best things about this book, though, was the descriptions of food: positively mouthwatering! My stomach grumbled so many times while reading, between the descriptions of the amazing foods the KoBra sold, as well as the dishes that Hamlet’s grandmother created. Not only are the food descriptions on point, but so are the descriptions of LA. This book reads at times like a love song to Los Angeles, and it made me want to visit so badly I could barely stand myself.

I realized right then—how disappointed you could be when you were all in with someone. When you cared so deeply. How your heart could break, so precisely and quickly.

The last positive I want to touch on is Adrian, Clara’s father, who was worth five stars all on his own. He’s hilarious, loving, protective without being overbearing, and has been stuck raising Clara on his own her entire life while her mother travels the world as a social media influencer. He’s flawed and human, and makes mistakes, but their relationship is so adorable and precious. It’s one of the healthiest and happiest parent/child relationships I’ve ever seen in YA, and it had me shamelessly crying for pages on end in the last few chapters!

“How is that legal? What has this country come to? Oh, better not let in refugees, but sure, hey, let a minor fly to Central America!”

I do have a few minor complaints: the writing could use a little bit further refining in the dialogue (as it is sometimes slightly stilted and awkward), and I sometimes had a hard time believing that certain activities in the book were legal. There’s also a scene in which Clara is allowed to get extremely drunk and videos are posted on the internet of her, by adults, and there is never any sort of recourse for the adults contributing to her underage drunkenness and public foolishness. I don’t have a problem with underage drinking in books, but I do have a problem with it going unaddressed, and I’m hoping maybe that’s something that will be wrapped up a little bit more cleanly in the finished copy.

All in all, though, this was such a fun read—I give it a solid 4.5 stars (rounding up, because I must have loved it to gush this much about it!) and have already pre-ordered my finished copy and can’t wait to add it to my shelf. ♥

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!



More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

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    1. For whatever reason this story didn’t call my name but after reading your review I have to say I’m reconsidering giving it a shot

    1. This sounds fantastic, Destiny! I love a sarcastic character, as they make me feel validated 😀 And one who is able to mess with her dad’s gendering his truck is one I feel like I have to meet. Adding to my TBR 🙂

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