Before I start this review I wanted to leave some links to support the Asian American community. In case you don’t know what happened in the US this past week 8 people of Asian descent were killed because of ongoing Covid racism and ignorance. If you witness hate aimed at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders you can report the incident to the Stop AAPI Hate website.
To donate directly check out these sites:
Napawf.org (Works for social, political, and structural change for Asian American and Pacific Islander women and girls)
Asian Mental Health Collective – aspires to make mental health accessible and approachable to Asian communities worldwide. Check out their U.S directory if you are seeking mental health services. Check out the Canadian directory.
A few years ago at the Los Angeles Festival of books, I listened to Gloria Chao confess that she named the love interest in American Panda after Sailor Moon’s boyfriend. I found it adorable and never forgot it.
Coincidentally, I stumbled across Rent a boyfriend while browsing and decided to pick it up, unaware it’s penned by the same author.
Rent a Boyfriend is a novel by Gloria Chao that you might recognize from such books as American Panda and Our Wayward Fate.
*This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of my links and complete a purchase, I earn a commission.
Chole Wang’s tired of her parents attempting to control her image and her future, so she hires the perfect boyfriend for Thanksgiving weekend. Drew Chan’s an artist who supplements his income by working as a boyfriend for hire.
Everything goes as planned, and Chole’s parents are impressed by Andrew’s (Drew) promising future as a doctor and his family’s wealth. All lies. But Chole also gets to know the real Drew that weekend, and soon they’re texting and catching feelings.
But can Chole find the courage to come clean to her parents?
This novel was a cute winter read. I enjoyed the conflict this novel brought out from Chole’s toxic parents, and her super judgemental community, to Chole searching for courage.
I thought it was interesting that Drew’s arc featured him as a college dropout. I think a lot of teens grow up in that “pro college or you’ll have no future environment” when in reality, it isn’t the route for everyone. And that’s okay.
I especially liked the way Chole also had to battle within herself to not come off as insensitive because she was raised in the mindset that college is your investment into the future.
I also thought Chole’s struggle to break away from her pure image frustrating. Which was the point. Everyone views Chole’s virginity as purity, and they both make fun of her for it while also uplifting her for it. And when Chole’s mother finally confesses why she worked so hard to make sure Chole maintained that purity image, my mind went to the Virgin and whore dichotomy. From what I learned in my college days (in a Chicano/Latinx context) women are either viewed as pure like the virgin mother (Virgen de Guadalupe) or whores (like Malinche). If this topic intrigues you, check out Gloria Anzaldua’s Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza.
I’ll summarize this point in the novel really quickly. Chole’s mother had premarital sex, and because of it, no one wanted to marry her. Chole’s father only married her mother because he did not know. As a result, Chole’s mom tries her hardest to make sure her daughter maintains her pure reputation.
It’s heartbreaking but also interesting. Virginity has so much currency. When it’s an invention.
Overall, I thought Rent a boyfriend’s a cute and quick winter read. Check it out now as we head into Spring.
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Until next time I’ll be living in libros,
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Drew being a college dropout is an especially nice element considering how often the “Asians are smart” stereotype still pops up, with “smart” being defined as academic success.
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I agree! I liked that element to his character.
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