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“I believed, and still believe, that you can build your dreams brick by brick. That you can accomplish anything with persistence. Even falling in love,” Desi. —I Believe in A Thing Called Love  

I Believe in A Thing Called Love

by Maurene Goo
AR Test, Good for Reluctant Readers, LGBTQ

At A Glance
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Reading Level
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Desi has a plan for everything. With a plan, anything is possible. That’s how she became the student body president and a soccer star. That’s how she’ll get into Stanford. Desi knows how to plan. She knows how to study. But, when it comes to boys, Desi is a flailure. “Flirt + failure = flailure.”

Desi is a disaster at romance. But when a hot art student moves to her school, Desi decides she wants to capture his attention. After watching Korean dramas, Desi realizes that love is, “like a freaking equation!” Desi is determined to be like the K drama’s unlucky heroine, who always ends up with her true love. Desi follows her, “K Drama steps to True Love,” and goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos. After a boat rescue, love triangle, and staged car crash, will Desi end up in the arms of Luca?

I Believe in A Thing Called Love will capture the reader’s heart from the first chapter. Told from Desi’s point of view, readers will laugh at Desi’s crazy antics, understand her insecurities, and root for her as she goes after the guy of her dreams. Desi wants to control everything, but this smart nerdy girl is hilariously clueless when it comes to boys. Desi isn’t portrayed as a stereotypical smart girl; she also isn’t perfect, and Desi’s imperfections make her even more lovable.

Desi has a strong and warm relationship with her father. Despite the fact that he is a mechanic and often has grease-stained hands, despite his imperfect English, and his love for watching K dramas, Desi is never embarrassed by her father. Desi’s father isn’t just a background character, but a well-developed part of the story. Desi’s father understands her quirks but doesn’t try to change her. The readers will appreciate the scenes with Desi and her father just as much as the failed romance scenes.

I Believe in A Thing Called Love isn’t just a typical teen romance. Through Desi’s experiences, readers will learn valuable lessons. When Desi is afraid that she is acting weird, Luca tells her, “Everyone’s weird, though. If you’re not even a little weird, you are truly weird. In a bad way. Not in the good way.” When Desi thinks about giving up on love, her father tells her, “You cannot control who you love, Desi, but you can always control how hard you fight, okay?” In the end, not all of Desi’s plans work out and despite the pain of failure, Desi knows life can still be good.

Do not pick up I Believe in A Thing Called Love unless you have time to finish the book because once you pick it up, you will not want to put it down. I Believe in A Thing Called Love takes a humorous look at first love and will leave readers with a smile. Desi is a heroine that will not be forgotten easily. The story ends with a list of K dramas that readers may want to watch. And after seeing Desi put the K drama’s love formula to the test, readers may also become hooked on K drama’s themselves.

Sexual Content

  • Desi thinks back to fourth grade when “a boy asked me if I want to look at his ‘special’ books and I told him I wasn’t allowed to look at pornography. Turns out it was comic books and he didn’t even know how boys were made yet. I was the fourth grade perv.”
  • Desi thinks about how Korean romantic comedies are different than in America. One difference is that “in American shows, the leads would barely blink twice before jumping into bed.”
  • Desi tells her friend, “I’m not an experienced seductress who like, has men drinking champagne from her high heels.”
  • Desi’s friend tells her, “I, too, think one should get laid before entering college.”
  • When Desi talks about her crush, a friend says, “I don’t want to see flailure heartbreak. I was hoping it was just you needing to round out your high school years with a good old-fashioned devirginizing.”
  • Desi goes to a “sex party” that was, “fertile ground for hooking up. . . there were rooms for spin the bottle and seven minutes in heaven.” Desi goes into the seven minutes in heaven closet with a friend. They just sit around and look at their phones.
  • Desi wonders, “Was everyone having sex but me? God.”
  • Desi’s friend Fiona is a lesbian, who has dates with a lot of girls. “Girls lined up for Fiona every year. Sometimes it was the classic bad-girl type and they’d make out rebelliously in the hallway at school.” The story talks about how her family reacted when she came out. “Her family eventually recovered, although they still weren’t thrilled with her active love life. I’m pretty sure that would have applied to boyfriends, too, however.”
  • Desi and another girl see Luca kissing a girl.
  • Desi thinks Luca is going to kiss her. “His eyes met mine and suddenly. . . suddenly it felt real . . . This was it. Kiss time. Holy crap. A wave of heat passed between us—the vibrations of our bodies’ atoms and molecules transferring heat. . . And then he blinked.”
  • Luca and Desi kiss. “Lips met mine, soft, a little chapped, and warm. My eyes were open in true K drama heroine fashion.”
  • Desi, “brushed my lips against his. Soft and a bit hesitant. And he kissed me back just as softly, with a little pressure at the very end.”
  • When Luca picks Desi up, he quickly kisses her. “My skin buzzed, every part of me awake and alive.”
  • When Luca finds out he got a scholarship, Desi and he begin jumping around. “Then suddenly we weren’t jumping anymore—just a whole lot of kissing.”
  • Desi and Luca kiss. “He strode over, pulled me into his arms, and kissed me. Not a gentle, sweet kiss—but an urgent one.”


  • Desi thinks back to first grade when, “I kicked my first crush, Jefferson, in the nuts during taekwondo class, and he had to be taken to the ER.”
  • Luca covers Desi’s mouth so she will be quiet. She, “responded by biting his gloved hand. I tasted rubber. He yelped and let go of me. . .”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • After binge watching television series all weekend long, someone asks Desi, “What! Are you on speed?”
  • When Desi is at home, her dad took, “a sip of beer.”
  • Desi and her friends go to a “sex party” where there is alcohol.
  • Someone asks Desi, “Are you high?”
  • Someone is upset that Desi didn’t want to be her friend. The girl says, “You would never talk to art freaks who smoked pot.”
  • Desi and her friends go to the beach and her friend, “took a swig of beer.”


  • Profanity is used often. Profanity includes ass, bitch, bitchiness, badass, bullshit, crap, dang, damn, douche, f-ing, hell, holy shit, freaking and shit.
  • Pissed, motherf-ing and fuck are all used once.
  • Oh my god, God, Oh Lord, Oh Sweet Jesus, and Jesus are often used as exclamations.
  • Desi thinks, “I might be a flailure in love, but I was the motherf-ing boss of studying.”
  • Someone asks a boy, “Why do you even hang out with a bunch of girls, anyway, you caveman douche.”
  • When someone suggested getting a hummer limo for prom, Fiona says, “I’d rather eat dick.”


  • None

Spiritual Content

  • None
Other books by Maurene Goo
Other books you may enjoy

“I believed, and still believe, that you can build your dreams brick by brick. That you can accomplish anything with persistence. Even falling in love,” Desi. —I Believe in A Thing Called Love  

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