Rent a Boyfriend

Book review by
Amanda Nojadera, Common Sense Media
Rent a Boyfriend Book Poster Image
Sweet, romantic tale about identity and family expectations.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will learn about Taiwanese culture and the real-life practice where women in some Asian countries hire fake boyfriends to bring home so their parents stop asking when they'll find a husband. A glossary is included at the back of the book defining the Mandarin words and phrases used throughout the story.

Positive Messages

Communication, empathy, honesty, respect, and perseverance are important themes. All relationships have problems, but how you solve them matters. Don't be afraid to be yourself and choose your own future.

Positive Role Models

Although Chloe and Drew lie throughout the story, they push each other to go after what they want and follow their dreams. Chloe is strong, brave, and selfless. She's supportive of Drew's dreams and also finds the courage to fight for her future. Drew is smart, supportive, and empathetic. He defends Chloe, but also knows and respects that she can defend herself. Even though it seems like Chloe's parents don't care about what Chloe wants, they are always looking out for her and want what's best for her.

Violence

Characters get into fistfights.

Sex

Characters kiss and make out. Chloe's mom tries to have the sex talk with her and refers to sexy underwear as whale tales. She also tells Chloe no hanky panky when she goes back to Chicago. A character tries to take Chloe to a strip club for their date. There is a mention of an unwanted pregnancy and at one point Chloe lies and says she's pregnant.

Language

Characters use variations of "s--t," "f--k," "ass," "bitch," "goddamn," "crap," "douchebag," "dick," "jerk," "stupid," and "Jesus Christ."

Consumerism

Brands and pop culture mentions include Lamborghini, Harry Potter, Uber, BMW, Tommy Hilfiger, Waterford Crystal, and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Underage characters try to get Drew to buy them alcohol but he refuses. There are mentions of champagne, marijuana, and cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Rent a Boyfriend, by Gloria Chao (American Panda), is a sweet and romantic coming-of-age tale based on the real-life practice where women in some Asian countries hire fake boyfriends to bring home so their parents stop asking when they'll find a husband. A glossary is included at the back of the book defining the Mandarin words and phrases used throughout the story. Characters get into fistfights. Characters kiss and make out. Main character Chloe's mom tries to have the sex talk with her and refers to sexy underwear as whale tales. She also tells Chloe no hanky panky when she goes back to Chicago. A character tries to take Chloe to a strip club for their date. There's a mention of an unwanted pregnancy, and at one point Chloe lies and says she's pregnant. Strong language includes variations of "s--t," "f--k," "ass," "bitch," "goddamn," "crap," "douchebag," "dick," "jerk," "stupid," and "Jesus Christ." Underage characters try to get Drew to buy them alcohol but he refuses. There are mentions of champagne, marijuana, and cigarettes.

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What's the story?

Chloe Wang, also known as Jing-Jing to her traditional Taiwanese parents, doesn't want to marry Hongbo, the wealthiest bachelor in her family's tight-knit Asian American community in Palo Alto, California. So she decides to RENT A BOYFRIEND from Rent for Your 'Rents. Drew Chan, an aspiring artist who joined Rent for Your 'Rents after his family cut him off for dropping out of college, has been trained to impress Asian parents no matter the situation. When Chloe hires Drew as her fake boyfriend, she thinks it'll be easy to convince her parents that she already has a boyfriend who's better than Hongbo. But what happens when Chloe and Drew start falling for each other? Can their fake relationship become something real?

Is it any good?

This sweet and romantic coming-of-age novel thoughtfully explores family expectations and identity making it a must-read for teens. Gloria Chao's loveable and relatable characters have swoonworthy chemistry, and readers will love their witty banter and how supportive they are of each other. Rent a Boyfriend seamlessly alternates between Chloe's and Drew's perspectives, revealing how their families' traditional values affect their relationships and sense of self-worth. But as the story progresses, teens will root for Chloe and Drew as they learn the importance of open, honest communication in healthy relationships and find a way to embrace their cultures while staying true to themselves.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the generational conflict in Rent a Boyfriend. Teens: Do your parents have values or traditions that you think are old-fashioned and have no place in today's world?

  • Mother-daughter relationships can be fraught with tension and strong bonds. Do any of the conflicts in the book sound familiar to you?

  • Talk about the various kinds of diversity in the novel. Why are diverse representations important in children's and young adult literature?

  • Does the romance portrayed seem realistic and relatable? Do YA romance novels help readers sort out their feelings and learn how to communicate, or do they create false expectations about teen relationships?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Asian American stories and romance

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