The Way You Make Me Feel, Maurene Goo. Farrar Straus Giroux Books. ISBN: 9780374304089
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.
Much like Things Jolie Needs to Do Before She Bites It, I read The Way You Make Me Feel at the tail-end of my contemporary YA romance kick. I actually was kind of disappointed when I picked this one up at the library because I really didn’t want to read yet another YA romance. BUT… I really liked this book! The romantic relationship was too cute, Clara’s dad is one of my favorite YA characters to-date, and Clara and Rose’s character development is amazing.
The Romance: I love that we know right away that Hamlet (cringey at first, but you get used to it) is crushing on Clara. None of this does he like me?, should I do something?, etc. high school drama that is in a lot of these books. Clara’s feelings are also very real, unlike a lot of YA books that make two 16 year olds fall in love at first sight and they basically live happily ever after. There honestly is very minimal drama in this relationship, which I find refreshing in this genre.
Clara’s Dad: Clara’s dad seriously is now one of my favorite YA characters. He is so funny, kind, reasonable, considerate, and Clara’s #1 wingman. He and his ex-wife had Clara when they were 18, and he has been raising her ever since he and his wife divorced when Clara was much younger. He owns a Korean/Brazilian fusion food truck and is trying to open a restaurant, all while keeping his troublemaker daughter under control. Not only is he funny himself, but the way Clara sees him makes him that much funnier. I can’t say many more specific things about him without spoiling anything, but he is definitely one of the best characters in this book.
Clara and Rose: These two… They have by far the most character development in this book. Without spoiling anything, I love how these two learn more about each other and themselves as their relationship becomes close, literally, in the small food truck over the summer. Honestly, I wasn’t overly fond of either character individually at the beginning of the book. Rose was too prim and bossy and Clara was too indifferent and rude, but their characters really grew over the course of the book.
The (Old?) Friendships: At the beginning of the book Clara has three-ish friends, who are more her goons than anything. Two are her long-time guy friends and the other is the girlfriend of one of said guy friends. The guys and Clara make for quite the prank team, but as Clara changes during her summer punishment, their friendship seems to follow suit.
Clara and Her Mom: We all know how glamorous Instagram and other social media platforms can make someone’s life seem, yet we never really know what these Insta-celebrities’ lives are really like. Clara’s mom is a social media influencer, and I really liked how the author played around with this. Clara has conflicting feeling about this: on the one hand, her mom is cool and influential; on the other hand, her mom isn’t ever present in her life. Again, I can’t say many specifics without giving anything away, but I really love how the author chose to write Clara’s mother and the role she plays in developing the plot and the characters.
I initially had this book rated at 4/5 stars, but I realized as I was writing this that I really had no reason not to give it 5 stars! Aside from not loving some of the characters at first (which I think is totally normal), I didn’t really have any major qualms about this book. There are great friendships, romantic components, and family scenes that makes the story very three-dimensional and realistic. It is funny, has great characters, and is overall just a fun, heartwarming summer read.