Review: 29 Dates by Melissa de la Cruz

5:24 PM



Jisu's traditional South Korean parents are concerned by what they see as her lack of attention to her schoolwork and her future. Working with Seoul's premiere matchmaker to find the right boyfriend is one step toward ensuring Jisu's success, and going on the recommended dates is Jisu's compromise to please her parents while finding space to figure out her own dreams. But when she flubs a test then skips out on a date to spend time with friends, her fed-up parents shock her by shipping her off to a private school in San Francisco. Where she'll have the opportunity to shine academically—and be set up on more dates!

Navigating her host family, her new city and school, and more dates, Jisu finds comfort in taking the photographs that populate her ever-growing social media account. Soon attention from two very different boys sends Jisu into a tailspin of soul-searching. As her passion for photography lights her on fire, does she even want to find The One? And what if her One isn't parent and matchmaker approved?

  MY  RATING: ★★★★☆

As a note, a copy of this novel was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

Melissa de la Cruz is one of my auto-buy authors. My original ride or die. One of the Queens of My Shelves. Seriously--she dominates my shelves and has since I was in middle school. When I say I love-love- love her and her work, I genuinely mean it. Which is why I may or may not* have cried a little when I saw 29 Dates in my mailbox.

It was just one of those oh-my-God-is-this-really-happening-someone-pinch-me-please moments. I am fairly certain I started vibrating because (a) Melissa de la Cruz and (b) this was one of my most anticipated books of 2019. And it definitely lived up to my own brand of hype: it was SO cute and the perfect novel to keep me company on one of the coldest days of the year.

(As I am writing this review, it is -50 degrees with windchill. NEGATIVE. 50. Agh. I literally just said to my friend, "Oh, good, I'm glad it's going to warm up a little tonight as -40 with windchill. Negative? 40? Warm? Sure.)

All you need in the winter is something warm and cozy, right? Melissa de la Cruz owns that title with 29 Dates. End statement. Like, if I could base my review only around the words, "Aw!" and "I love you, Melissa de la Cruz!" this is likely the part where I'd put the brakes on my own mouth. Er, fingers?

You get the picture. So, here's what I can say about 29 Dates it is all kinds of sweet and a little unexpected. I had an idea of where the story would go at the beginning, but it actually didn't go the way I expected and I love that it didn't. Because, it made the ending even more cute than it already was. I was like, "Am I soft?" and the book was like, "Yes, Jessica, you are soft for me."

I am a de la Cruz Softie.

If you liked the Anna and the French Kiss series, you'll likely enjoy this. It's very much so a similar story (girl moves to A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT COUNTRY unexpectedly towards the end of her high school experience and self-discovery and other cuteness quickly follows) only a lot more diverse. I loved seeing, and experiencing, the exploration of Korean culture.

That being said: I am going to wrap up this review by saying a few things.

(1) I love Jisu. She is such a sweetheart. I found her to be a great narrator and seeing her brand of coming-of-age was fun. She is very analytical, which is definitely the type of teenager I was at her age. (2) It was simply enjoyable and there was something highly entertaining about watching her go on the arranged dates (seons) her matchmaker and parents kept sending her on. (3) I thought the portrayal of being a teenager was quite authentic and as always de la Cruz captures the many types of teenagers in her characters.

Other little notes: I liked the endgame romance a lot! I was worried about another guy in the story for a bit (and relied on tired old tropes in the genre in making my predictions) but was pleasantly surprised with how it all ended. I also liked the idea of family found. Jisu meets a lot of people in her "new life" and I thought it was sweet how she had certain connections here and there. I only wish that we'd have seen more of those friendships and family-found scenarios explored, but that obviously doesn't fog my love for 29 Dates.

Ultimately, this is one of those novels that I really enjoyed. It's the very definition of pleasure read and one of the cutest contemporaries of 2019 thus far.

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