Cover Image: Rent a Boyfriend

Rent a Boyfriend

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Member Reviews

"How are we supposed to be a part of the community after what you did? We're ostriched, Jing-Jing!"
"Ostracized," I said quietly.
"No, ostriched! So shamed we have to stick our heads in the sand!"
Ha! I loved it! I know we’ve seen a lot of the fake couple to real couple dramas over the years, but this one just struck a chord. Aside from the refreshing representation of the Asian community, the setup was sturdy and imaginative.
Chloe has a very solid reason for renting a boyfriend, and that is to avoid an arranged marriage to a full-on demon. Her parents, however, are blind to Hongbo’s flaws because of his wealth and prestige. I will not lie, this felt a little stale. While most immigrant parents are strict, I found it hard to believe that any parent would marry their child off to a repulsive character like Hongbo. Still, some people are desperate social climbers, and it has definitely happened in real life, so I was not inclined to hold a grudge.
This predicament means that Chloe has to turn to drastic measures. Why does she lie to her parents, you may ask? This is something that Chloe wrestles with throughout the novel. The gist of it is that she does not want to lose her parents, but she is not willing to take the role they are handing her. Her parents are rigid. They will not accept her if she does not fit the narrow, narrow mold they have laid out for her. She still loves them.
Enter Drew. I have to admit, the idea of a professional stand-in boyfriend was new to me. Apparently, it is a booming business, especially in Asia! Unlike most fake relationship stories we’ve been treated to, Drew is a professional. His one and only job is to impress Chloe’s parents. He’s well experienced and charges an inordinate fee. This adds extra layers to the relationship between Chloe and Drew… after going to all this trouble to prove that Drew is a perfect boyfriend, she now has to deal with the fact that the real Drew is far from perfect.
The characters in this story are relatively flat, which helps make it relatable. For the most part, both Chloe and Drew are relatively mellow people. They choose the path of least resistance whenever possible. The story stumbles a little when the author tries to make us connect with them on a deeper level. Mainly, the novel cruises along on the strength of the plot, and the various hoops that Chloe has to jump through as her Asian parents become more and more desperate. It is rom-com territory, to be honest.
Chloe’s family and community is painted in a slightly stereotypical and toxic way. However, the immigrant experience has so many different shades that it doesn't require a huge imagination to believe her circumstances. Chloe also comes to realize that her experience is not representative of all second generation Asian immigrants. However, the way that Chloe deals with the merging of her two worlds as she grows up is very, very relatable. The slices of culture we see seem natural, but never overpower the story completely.
Yes, this is a story about a second generation Asian immigrant, but it’s really a story about growing up and finding your own path.
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This is a novel told from two perspectives, Drew and Chloe, both of whom are American-born children of Taiwanese parents, as they navigate the world of parental expectations and culture clash. Chloe, desperate to escape her parents’ match for her, turns to Rent a Boyfriend to do just that. Enter Drew, an aspiring artist and currently Chloe’s rented boyfriend. As they navigate the rules of operator and client, friends or maybe more, and parental expectations, Drew and Chloe also learn more about how to be themselves.

I liked that although the premise of this book is based on the real practice in Asia of hiring a fake significant other to appease older relatives, this book was not superficial and only focused on romance. This book also delves into what it means to be the child of immigrants, to grapple with expectations foisted upon you by others, to love your family, mess and all, and what it means to really pursue what you want. I appreciated the use of Mandarin and Taiwanese terms sprinkled into the conversations as well as the references to Chinese and Taiwanese art, customs, and folklore. It wasn’t heavy-handed, and though a glossary is provided, most of terms can be understood through context clues.

I have added this book to my classroom library wishlist and will definitely recommend this book to my students who enjoy romantic comedies.
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Chao once again combines heartache and humor into a memorable rom-com with Rent a Boyfriend. Like American Panda, we meet a genuine college age protagonist, her goofy but well-meaning mom, and a sweet hearted Asian love interest. Readers will especially connect with artist Drew/Andrew, who dedicates his time to conflicted Chloe/Jing-Jing, despite his own family turmoil.

Chao deepens the culture clash in Rent a Boyfriend with Chloe's aversion to her Taiwanese roots, due to a judgmental community, which diasporic readers can especially heal from. 

Thank you very much for the ARC!
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WOW! This book was so amazing! It was fun and hilarious, but also serious and sincere. There were some amazingly sweet moments of romance and some seriously cringe worthy embarrassing moments. I yelped out loud multiple times at some of the craziness that went down in this book! But I think the part that gets my heart the most was reading a book so full of Asian culture and moments that were reminiscent of my own formative years and my own Asian family and disapproving-always-nit-picking-never-satisfied Asian mom and that kind of representation and feeling of "OMG that was ME!" is something I do not get to feel very often and when I do I feel so much more moved and emotional than I normally would. Disregarding my personal, emotional attachment to this book, I still think this was an incredibly adorable romcom that most of my friends will love and devour once it releases! I can't wait to buy copies for everyone!
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Cute romance but also great sections on dealing with family expectations. Main characters were Chinese/Taiwanese. Def a recommend for any fans of Korean dramas/Maurene Goo/David Yoon.
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I really liked this one. Such a fun and easy read, I will definitely recommend this book to some of my friends.
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This review will be live on the blog, One Way Or An Author, on November 2, 2020!

This cover. That blurb. The Author’s Note. Everything about this book captivated me, so it was no wonder I jumped on the chance to read it! We have Chao’s trademark easygoing humor from the first person perspectives of Chloe and Drew, two Taiwanese-American young adults that find love through a convoluted situation. With a flair of dramatism reminiscent of Taiwanese dramas and the genuine, sweet romance of youth, RENT A BOYFRIEND turned out to be a delight. 

We start the book with Drew first meeting Chloe at her parents’ place for Thanksgiving, where she rented him to act as her fake date! The ultimate goal was to make her parents cut off a betrothal to another Taiwanese boy in her community, who was pretty chauvinistic and unlikable. You can’t help but see sparks fly, and them wanting to text each other even after the ‘assignment’ was over. Drew and Chloe fall very easily into a smooth dialogue with shared interests and struggles. 

[Drew] “My mission (should I choose to take it, which, yes, I obviously did) was to win over the Wangs and make them feel secure enough in Jing-Jing’s and my loving relationship to turn down the heir of No One Systems.”

I always appreciate Chao’s stories because they feature characters that start college, and that’s the point of life where I’m at. Chloe just started studying economics at the University of Chicago, while Drew is a college drop-out who is estranged with his family because of his passion for art. Although they come from different backgrounds, they commiserate over the high expectations and pressures of Asian-American parents and the psychological trauma that they can create. My heart really went out for the couple, and it made the small joys they found in their situations even more sweet to see. 

[Chloe] “Why did it take this actor to improve our family dynamic, and was it even real given that he wasn’t? Were we all pretending, putting on a better face to fool everyone around us, even our family?”

There were some things that hit really close to home when it came to Chloe’s familial dynamics, while other aspects tended to be over-the-top (like I said in the beginning, reminiscent of a Taiwanese drama). I think this is a pretty unique aspect of Chao’s writing that keeps the book light-hearted despite serious undertones. One thing that got to me was Chloe’s mother’s heavy misogyny, the co-dependence of the Asian community, and silence destroying relationships. The Asian community aspect was explored with heavy gossiping, people trying to one-up each other by bragging about their kids, and even bible studies as a social group (this relates heavily back to my own mother). At the same time, we see small actions of support with one another despite it all. A lot of Chloe’s familial problems stem from silence and the unwillingness to communicate, which is big, at least, in my own family. It was sad to see Chloe temper down her personality to fit into the mold that her parents wanted her to be. At the same time, I couldn’t blame her - what child of an immigrant wouldn’t want their parents to be happy, after all they went through?

Anyhow, Drew is able to see past Chloe’s facade and they begin a fragile, but super genuine relationship where they support and encourage the other in taking steps towards accepting themselves and their passions. The romance is the light-hearted part, full of laughs and secret smiles and fun puns, while the familial aspect weighed the book down. Usually I really appreciate those aspects, but the continuous deception in this book, despite Chloe wanting to come clean, made my heart a bit heavy while reading. Chloe even acknowledges that she built a house of lies, but it went on a bit too long for my comfort. If this was the case, I expect more for the denouement and resolution! 

Either way, RENT A BOYFRIEND was another fantastic read from Gloria Chao. If you’ve enjoyed her previous books, definitely give this one a try! Chao’s writing is so sweet and sprinkled with Mandarin phrases and traditions, such as Chinese New Year, that highlight the best of Chloe and Drew’s culture, while still exploring the darker elements. Although I’m not as in love with this book as her previous books, RENT A BOYFRIEND is still a lovely Young Adult contemporary with slice of life aspects that’ll tug your hearts.

TW: fatphobia, heavy misogynistic dialogue, classism/elitism, parent with cancer

Thank you Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for the review copy!
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Fans of Fake Dating tropes, its our time to shine! This book takes a fun spin on the classic fake dating troupe we know and love. I couldn't put this book down. 

Lets start with the characters. I loved both Drew and Chloe. They were both strong willed, driven characters. They both worked for what they wanted. Chloe deals with a hard battle between the love she has for her parents and the love she has for herself. She wants to make them proud but also she struggles with their demeaning comments, even if they were made out of love. Her parents wanted the best for her and had good intentions but their actions were not the great. Drew is what an ideal book boyfriend sounds like. He cares a lot about Chloe and wants the best for her. Drew is an artist and the descriptions of his art sounds beautiful! 

Chloe and Drew had a lot of growing to do together and had to work for their relationship and I like seeing a couple that grows together.  

One criticism of the book is that I felt like the ending was a little rushed. It felt like the issues were resolved pretty quickly but I did like how they were resolved! It tied everything up pretty well. 

I liked this book because it gave insight into a culture that I am not familiar with. I liked reading about their traditions and also the differences between Chloe and Drew's upbringings. 

I want to thank Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for this ebook in exchange for an honest review!
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Such a wonderful new book by Gloria Chao! Chloe and Drew are a wonderful pair and the alternating pov makes the read so much fun. I loved the premise of hiring someone to pose as a boyfriend to help remove the stress of parents and community.  The story has depth and is way more than a romantic read. Well done and I look forward to what Chao writes next! Thank you netgalley for this arc in exchange for my honest opinion.
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*Spoiler free, 3.75 stars*

I love Gloria Chao books. I fell in love with American Panda, and while I might not have loved Our Wayward Fate as much, I still enjoyed it. When I found out that she would be writing a fake dating book, a book where the main character hires a fake boyfriend no less, I was incredibly eager to read it! I even share a name with the main character!

I will be adding this to the list of "Gloria Chao Books That I Really Really Love". It was cute and adorable, and full of her signature humor. But it was also painful and starkly real.

I really, really loved Chloe's character and her journey. She rents a boyfriend because of conflict with her parents. She doesn't feel like she's enough. She doesn't feel like she can be comfortable in her own skin because of the things her parents tell her and the things her parents expect from her. It was heart wrenching to read. It was painful, but in the best way. It felt real. I feels weird to describe pain as something good or something to talk about positively. But, it shows just how fantastic a writer and a storyteller Chao is. She knows how to write cute and adorable. Though she also knows how to write painful and heartbreaking.

Though, I loved how Chloe tried her very best to stay true to herself throughout. Sometimes that meant making her parents happy and sometimes that meant trying to put herself first. She's discovering how strong she is and how she can handle herself.

I also really liked Drew! And I loved how he had his own POV. He also has familial struggles, though they're different from Chloe's. He dropped out of college to pursue art. It was so, so great to see a YA book portray collage as not the be all to end all. Collage wasn't the right path for Drew and that's fine. He struggles with his decision, but I really loved seeing how he dealt with the belief that a higher education is needed and how he tried to come to terms with his own decisions. He was also just a really solid guy all around. He and Chloe compliment each other so well. Chloe knows when Drew need help and Drew knows when Chloe can handle a situation on her own. They worked really well together.

The writing in this book seemed a bit different than Chao's last two books. It didn't seem as flowy and fly throughable as American Panda or Our Wayward Fate. That doesn't mean it was bad though! The writing was still good, filled with amazing jokes and lines that had me pause to think deeper.

One thing I loved most about this book was the text messages. I know that seems like a weird, small thing to be so caught up on, but they really were that good. They were that good because they felt so authentic. It felt like a 19 year old and a 21 year old texting. When I got to the first batch, I was honestly floored at how real they sounded! I love, love, love when something feels so authentic to teenagers and these texts were exactly that.

All in all, this was a really enjoyable read. I loved the whole renting of a boyfriend, I loved Chloe standing up for herself, I loved Drew's belief in her, I loved the sheep, I loved the art, I loved how it was heart wrenching and adorable at the same time. Really, if you love Gloria Chao books, or are even thinking of picking one up, Rent A Boyfriend is fantastic.
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I was provided with an eARC of this book in exchange for a fair review. 

I really enjoyed this fun contemporary! Chloe and Drew were great MCs and I loved the dual POV interspersed with text convos. The story was interesting and entertaining, with just the right amount of tension and “drama”.
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Gloria Chao has crafted a beautiful, witty YA novel that will appeal to readers of all kinds. The premise for the book, renting a boyfriend to get your parents off your back, is fantastic, but the book feels even more accomplished when the protagonist moves forward from that concept about half way through. I enjoy how Chao seamlessly blends Mandarin and English. The glossary is interesting, but not even necessary. I was most impressed with the protagonist's character arc and the ending in which she shows great maturity. I will definitely recommend this book to everyone who has struggled to maintain a healthy relationship with his or her parents and anyone interested in a great love story.
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