Book Review: I’ll Be the One by Lyla Lee – A Celebration of K-Pop, Body Positivity, and Untangling Complex Asian Parent-Child Relationships

I'll Be The One, Lyla Lee. A badge at the bottom-left that says, 'Reviewed by Joce, The Quiet Pond'. In the centre is a image of Cuddle wearing a pajama hat.

Blurb:

Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.

She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.

When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.

But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself.

Joce’s review:

I’ll Be the One follows Skye Shin’s journey through auditioning for the K-Pop reality TV competition called You’re My Shining Star as a fat, bisexual, Korean teenage girl, while dealing with a potential romance with a co-star, and her complex relationship with her parents, especially her mother. Lyla Lee celebrates fatness, bisexuality, and some fierce work and talent through her construction of Skye’s character.

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Our Friend is Here! Asian Heritage Month Edition – An Interview with Lyla Lee, Author of the Mindy Kim Series; On the Inspiration Behind Mindy Kim and Writing Korean Culture

Our Friend is Here: Asian Heritage Month Edition. Author interview with Lyla Lee, author of the Mindy Kim series; on the inspiration behind mindy kim and writing in korean culture. illustration of xiaolong the axolotl, her arms out wide as if she is showing off something, with lyla lee as a pink corgi, standing on her hindlegs, and holding a book.

Our Friend is Here! is a guest feature at The Quiet Pond, where authors, creatives, and fellow readers, are invited to ‘visit’ the Pond! In Our Friend is Here! guest posts, our visitors (as their very own unique character!) have a friendly conversation about anything related to books or being a reader — and become friends with Xiaolong and friends.

Asian Heritage Month Edition is a month-long event at The Quiet Pond, where Asian authors and bookish content creators are invited to celebrate being Asian, Asian books, and the experiences of being an Asian reader. (Note: Here is an explanation of why we are calling this guest series ‘Asian Heritage Month’.)

When I read middle grade and young adult literature, something that I’m always on the look out for – and that I’m reflecting on – is the sort of books that I want to give to the young children in my life one day. Whether it is my own or family or children of friends, I often find myself asking: ‘what books do I want the young children in my life to grow up with, what books do I think they will find interesting, and what books do I want to shape them into empowered and thoughtful people?’

When I read Lyla Lee’s Mindy Kim series, I knew immediately: I’m going to give the younger children in my life the Mindy Kim series one day.

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