The Way You Make Me Feel

Book review by
Amanda Nojadera, Common Sense Media
The Way You Make Me Feel Book Poster Image
Sweet coming-of-age tale explores family, food, friendship.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Good introduction to Korean and Brazilian cultures: descriptions of Korean and Brazilian food and short Korean and Portuguese phrases sprinkled in. 

Positive Messages

Take risks and step outside of your comfort zone. Learn to live in the moment. Friendships can form in unlikely places. Take pride in your work. Acknowledge your mistakes and learn from them. It's OK to be vulnerable and open up to other people.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Although Clara's sarcastic attitude sometimes comes across as obnoxious and she often acts without thinking of the consequences, she learns that it's OK to be vulnerable and to care deeply about her family, friends, and work. She finally finds the drive to finish what she started. Adrian is an incredibly supportive father who raised Clara on his own and loves her unconditionally. Rose begins to understand that she can't control everything and learns to live in the moment. Hamlet is humble, patient, kind, and genuine. He encourages Clara to step outside of her comfort zone and doesn't enable her carefree attitude.

Violence

Clara and Rose fight at prom and inadvertently start a fire at the school. Teens get injured at a water park.

Sex

Teens kiss.

Language

Strong language includes "jerk," "dork," "bitch," "butt-kisser," "ass," "heck," "freaking," "dick," "stupid," and "WTF."

Consumerism

Clara's mom is a famous social media influencer who travels the world instead of staying in Los Angeles to raise her daughter. Social media apps mentioned include Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook. Brands and pop culture mentions such as Rolling Stone, Airbnb, FaceTime, Gilmore Girls, Real Housewives, Rebel Without a Cause, and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Underage drinking at parties. Clara gets drunk at the social media influencers' retreat and it ends up on various social media platforms. Brief mention of Clara's first time smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Way You Make Me Feel is a sweet coming-of-age tale that explores family, friendship, food, and celebrates the diverse culture of Los Angeles. A prank gone wrong at junior prom results in a fight that starts a fire at the school, and  protagonist Clara has to work at her dad's Korean-Brazillian food truck for the summer, where she meets a cute guy named Hamlet. Also, two teens get injured at a water park. There are a couple instances of underage drinking, including one that's broadcast on various social media platforms, and there's a brief mention of Clara's first time smoking. Strong language includes "bitch," "ass," "dick," "butt-kisser," and "WTF." 

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What's the story?

In THE WAY YOU MAKE ME FEEL, 16-year-old Clara Shin thought she'd be spending her summer vacation visiting her social-media-famous mom in Tulum and relaxing by the pool with her friends. But after the prank she pulled at junior prom goes wrong, she's forced to work on her dad's food truck, the KoBra, alongside her nemesis, Rose Carver, for the entire summer. Making things more interesting is Hamlet, the cute and charming barista at one of the KoBra's stops, who happens to have a huge crush on Clara. As summer progresses, Clara starts to learn that there's more to Rose and Hamlet than meets the eye. Who knew working on a food truck could lead to friendship and romance?

Is it any good?

The emotional father-daughter bond, heartwarming friendship, charming interracial romance, and mouthwatering descriptions of Korean Brazilian dishes make this a delectable treat for teens. Author Maurene Goo beautifully captures and celebrates the diverse cultures, characters, and sights of Los Angeles in this sweet coming-of-age tale. Clara can sometimes come across as obnoxious with her sarcastic attitude, but as The Way You Make Me Feel progresses, readers will love her transformation after an eye-opening trip into a passionate and driven young woman who's ready to develop deep, meaningful connections with others.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can 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 young adult romance novels help readers sort out their feelings and learn how to communicate, or do they create false expectations about teen relationships?

  • Talk about the popularity of books about life-changing summers. Why is summer such a magical time for teens? What are some of your favorite books set in summer?

  • Is your teen social media-obsessed like Clara's mom? Find out how to manage media use and ease social media anxiety.

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