Frederick, Jen. Heart and Seoul. Berkley, 2021. ISBN 978-0593100141 352 pp. $16.00
I love the title and the cover of this book so much, but I do not think it qualifies as a romance novel. Rather, it is about identity and finding one’s true course, and is better categorized as fiction with strong romantic elements. Hara, a Korean woman adopted as a child by white parents, doesn’t know much about the story of her birth and heritage, just that she was abandoned. She didn’t fit into white culture growing up and avoided many things Korean to fit in. When she learns that her birth father has recently passed away, she decides to go to her homeland to pay her respects… and maybe to try to track down her mother with the help of a good friend who seems to desperately want to help Hara avoid being taken advantage of. A meet-cute at the airport comes with a whiff of romance, but It’s Complicated.
Hara is a strong character who takes risks and experiences real growth, as well as betrayal that she has to come to terms with. The writing is strong and details vivid, I really enjoyed the cultural elements of the novel and details of Seoul, and the attraction between Hara and Boyoung. I haven’t read anything else by the author so I had no expectations for content except the cover illustration, and without a HEA or HFN ending, it’s just not a romance… unless there will be a sequel?
I received an advance reader’s review copy of #Heart&Seoul via #NetGalley.