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Somewhere Only We Know

Book review by
Amanda Nojadera, Common Sense Media
Somewhere Only We Know Book Poster Image
K-pop star steps out in romantic "Roman Holiday" retelling.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Readers will learn about Korean pop, Korean words, and Hong Kong.

Positive Messages

Communication and courage are important themes. It takes a lot of hard work to make your passion your job, but if you believe in yourself you can accomplish your dreams. Be honest about what makes you happy. Taking care of your mental health is a priority. Be a good person to your friends, family, and yourself.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lucky is confident, funny, caring, down-to-earth, and passionate. She knew how much hard work and how many sacrifices it would take for her to become a K-pop star without letting it deter her from accomplishing her dream. Jack is sweet, smart, and talented. He also helps Lucky realize that she needs to find balance in her life. The parents in the book are supportive and want their kids to follow their passions.


There are a few instances where Lucky is swarmed by fans and she feels like she's suffocating. 


Characters flirt and kiss.


Strong language and insults include variations of "freaking," "crap," "hell," "ass," "s--t," "creep," "bastard," "jerk," "bitch," "dweeb," and "loser."


Lucky is a famous K-pop star and is aware of how her image is controlled by her label. She's on a strict diet and mentions that other girls in training formed unhealthy eating habits and eating disorders. There's also talk of eyelid surgeries to appeal more to Western beauty standards. Pop culture mentions include The Later Tonight Show, Little Women, In-N-Out Burger, Netflix, Cardi B, Mariah Carey, Soundgarden, One Direction, and more. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Jack thinks that Lucky is drunk but she's actually on sleeping pills and anxiety medication. Characters go to bars. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Maurene Goo's Somewhere Only We Know is a charming Roman Holiday-type of love story about Lucky, a famous Korean America K-pop star, and Jack, a Korean American tabloid photographer, who fall in love after spending a day together in Hong Kong. Readers will learn about K-pop, Korean words, and Hong Kong as well as the importance of communication and courage. The book also mentions some of the dark sides of K-pop stardom, such as unhealthy eating habits and eyelid surgery to appeal to Western beauty standards. Jack thinks that Lucky is drunk when she's actually on sleeping pills and anxiety medication. Pop culture mentions include The Later Tonight Show, Little WomenIn-N-Out Burger, Netflix, Cardi B, Mariah Carey, Soundgarden, One Direction, and more. Strong language and insults include variations of "freaking," "crap," "hell," "ass," "s--t."

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written byH6i2J0y0K5ui9c8c3m7s May 8, 2019

What's the story?

SOMEWHERE ONLY WE KNOW tells the story of Lucky, a famous Korean American K-pop star who's just finished the last concert of her Asian tour and is about to make her American debut on The Later Tonight Show. Lucky knows how much this performance means to her label and how big this is for her career, but all she really can think about is finding a cheeseburger. Instead of falling asleep after taking her sleeping pills and anxiety medication, Lucky ventures onto the streets of Hong Kong without her manager or bodyguard knowing. Thankfully she runs into Jack, a handsome Korean American and aspiring photographer, who takes care of her that night -- without realizing she's a celebrity -- and gives her a tour of Hong Kong the next day. Lucky and Jack find themselves falling for each other as they visit various attractions and eat many delicious dishes around Hong Kong. But Lucky doesn't know that Jack's been secretly taking photos of her during their adventure for a popular tabloid magazine in the hopes of helping him start his career. Will their budding romance survive after Lucky finds out about Jack’s secret?

Is it any good?

Teens will fall in love with the swoon-worthy romance and vivid Hong Kong setting in Maurene Goo’s charming, Korean-pop-filled retelling of a classic film. Like Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday, Lucky and Jack have undeniable chemistry, and Goo flawlessly mixes their flirtatious banter with deep conversations about their lives. Lucky is confident, funny, and passionate about singing, but unhappy with her career. Jack is smart, sweet, and caring, but unsure if he should risk disappointing his parents to pursue his passion for photography. But as they get to know each other and unravel the lies they've been telling, readers will see how Somewhere Only We Know highlights the importance of being honest about what makes you happy and finding the courage to make your dreams a reality.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Somewhere Only We Know compares with other all-in-one-day love stories. What others have you read? What's effective about this time frame for a novel?

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

  • Do you think that Jack's good qualities and intentions make it OK for him to manipulate Lucky? Is he a good role model?

  • How do the characters demonstrate communication and courage? Why are these important character strengths?

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