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“The whole point of love was that you truly felt it, that it was so strong, that you had to be with that person, as if drawn by some otherworldly force,” Jack. –Somewhere Only We Know
Somewhere Only We Know
by Maurene Goo
10:00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she’s just performed her hit song “Heartbeat” in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She’s about to debut on The Later Tonight Show in America, which will hopefully be a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She’s in her fancy hotel trying to fall asleep, but dying for a hamburger.
11:00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She’s very cute. He’s maybe curious.
12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.
Somewhere Only We Know switches back and forth between Lucky and Jack’s point of view, which gives the reader a fun insight into each person’s thought process. Each character has a secret, and the multiple points of view allow the reader to understand the fear behind the secret. Another interesting aspect of the story is the insight into both character’s heritage—both are American-born Koreans, who see Korea in a unique light. Lucky often compares America and Korea’s differences, but one thing that is similar in both countries is the idea that “women need to be pretty more than anything.”
Even though Lucky is a K-pop artist, she is just like many young adults: she desires freedom, wonders what path her life should take, and worries about letting others down. Even though the story takes place over a 24-hour period, Lucky’s joy at being able to explore the world is contagious. Her protective partner in crime, Jack, is not only insanely attractive, but is also struggling to figure out his future as he explores the narrow definitions of right and wrong.
Somewhere Only We Know is a fast-paced, funny romance that readers will not be able to put down. The story will make readers laugh while also exploring the idea of “living a life of quality.” In the end, Jack realizes that a “quality life involved caring for people. Being good to them. Being a good person for them in addition to yourself.” Somewhere Only We Know doesn’t gloss over the hard work that is involved in having a quality life. Lucky finally receives therapy to help her with her anxiety, and Jack has to be honest with his parents about his fears and dreams.
Somewhere Only We Know has two characters that fall in love in a day. Readers will enjoy watching the two stumble their way through that day. In the end, Lucky and Jack go their separate ways because they need to figure out their own issues, but the story leaves the reader with the hopeful thought that maybe love can grow when the time is right.
- When Lucky and Jack are walking on a city street, they pass “a couple making out in a dark corner.”
- When an older man starts flirting with Lucky, she kicked him “in the shin, lightly” and told him, “And you need to stop creeping on me!”
- When Lucky wakes up in a man’s bed, she states, “I was relieved, but I couldn’t quite figure out if it was from not having been despoiled, or if it was from knowing that if I had been despoiled, I would have wanted to remember it.”
- When Lucky is leaving Jack’s apartment early in the morning, his landlady sees her and says, “You. Don’t sleep with bad boys like Jack.”
- In order to avoid talking to a fan, Lucky kisses Jack. She “slipped my hand onto the soft skin on the back of his neck and pressed my body to his. Hips bumping, torsos grazing. . . I squeezed my eyes shut and pressed my lips to his.” Even though Jack knew Lucky was creating a diversion, he “reached up and grazed her jaw with my fingertips. Her eyelashes fluttered before I pressed my lips to hers again, softly. Moving over them slowly. Her mouth matched mine in response, with a gentle intake of breath.” The kiss is described over three pages.
- Jack asks, “Why is it that in rom-coms people always go from hating each other to like, ripping each other’s clothes off?”
- None of the K-pop stars were supposed to date, “but there were hookups and covert dating.” However, Lucky had never dated.
- Lucky tells Jack that she likes him. Then she says, “Isn’t it interesting that Koreans have a specific word for that? Because we understand that even saying you like someone is meaningful. In America, the moment is sealed by like, sex or some dramatic love confession. But in Korea, ‘I like you.’ That’s a big deal.”
- When Jack changes his shirt, Lucky thinks, “good gravy, he was pleasing to look at. All lean, corded muscles and smooth, tanned skin.”
- Jack kisses Lucky and she thinks, “Jack was good at this. Truly, he was too masterful. The head tilt was perfect. The soft touch of his hands on my face. The pressure of his lips. . . All that existed was Jack in front of me. Jack kissing me. This delicate and hungry exchange of breath.”
- At a club, Jack and Lucky dance. As they danced, Lucky “shamelessly ran my hands through Jack’s hair, over his arms and chest. . . kissing him now and again.”
- As Lucky walks, she has to go around “a couple making out against a lamppost.”
- After a long absence, Lucky sees Jack, and “she reached up and kissed me. Hard. It was the kiss of an outlaw, of a soldier back from war. I gladly submitted, letting her wrap her arms around me, feeling her body lift as she stood on her toes to reach me.”
- Lucky tells Jack about the time her sister was injured by a mob of fans. “A fan grabbed at her and she fell forward, onto her chin. She needed stitches. . . Seeing Vivian’s startled face before she hit the ground was the worst moment of my life. Spending a car ride with her while she cried, clutching Ren’s rolled up jacket to her bloody chin, was the second worst.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Every night, Lucky is “given two sleeping pills and one Arivan. The sleeping pills were standard, everyone took them. But the Arivan—that was top secret. Mental illness was still taboo in South Korea. . .”
- When Jack first sees Lucky, he assumes she is “passed out” drunk; however, she is sleeping because of the pills she took earlier. Later she doesn’t want to tell him that she was “completely out of it from sleeping pills mixed with anxiety meds.”
- A man asks Lucky if she would like a drink. When they sit down, he orders a gin and tonic.
- At a karaoke bar, two women announce that they got married, then “the bartender uncorked a bottle of champagne.”
- As Lucky goes through an area of town with bars and restaurants, she passes “drunk dudes.”
- Jack’s parents didn’t want him to go on a “backpacking trip of discovery.” Jack’s sister thinks that the rich boys who do are just “discovering weed.”
- Profanity used: ass, bitch, damn, crap, holy crap, bloody hell, shit.
- “Dear Lord,” “Oh God,” “Oh my God,” “Jesus,” and “Christ” are used as exclamations frequently.
- Jack sneaks a girl into a party and dictates, “using some phony contact name that didn’t exist, combined with dickish entitlements, I got us upstairs.”
- When Lucky goes into a bar, Jack says, “There are cooler places to go that aren’t full of douchebags.”
- After Jack hurts Lucky’s feelings, he feels like a “jackass.” She thinks he is a “bastard.”
- A “drunk loser” called Lucky a “bitch.”
- Jack sends photos of Lucky to his boss, the manager of a tabloid magazine. The man likes “an ass shot” and refers to Lucky as a “bitch.”
- Lucky and Jack go into a Buddhist temple. Lucky says she is not religious, but she lights incense. Lucky said, “I’m not actually praying. I’m being respectful of other cultures.” Lucky and Jack have a brief conversation about prayer. During the conversation, Lucky says, “Buddhism is pretty interesting. It’s all about the path to liberation—to be free of things like early desires, to be free of cravings.” This comment leads to a short conversation about living life selflessly.