I used to be a huge fan of Melissa de la Cruz but haven’t been as big of a fan in recent years. The Alex & Eliza series just doesn’t do it for me, and Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe was an affront to humanity. But with 29 Dates, de la Cruz seems to hae found her way back to her teen rom-com roots and I’m over the moon. Set against the backdrop of a Korean exchange student moving countries and going on dates, there’s a lot to love here. There’s family drama (both stateside and abroad) and cute relationships and college-acceptance angst.
Jisu’s parents have high hopes for her. They want her to go to a good university and find a good man, but Jisu isn’t quite living up to their expectations. So they ship her off to San Francisco, to live with a host family and attend a private high school. But, along the way, she’s also going on seons, blind-ish dates where she’s set up with someone of her social status and acumen, someone her parents want her to match with. But not every seon goes well, if you catch my drift. But soon, Jisu is finding her way in San Francisco, enjoying getting more into photography and making friends, especially with cute boy Austin who likes to surf and eat burritos and before she knows it, she’s falling. She’s also got to get into a top tier college. And keep up with her friends back in South Korea. And fit in with her host family. And do class work. Not too much on her plate, right?
The character of Jisu is really fun and relatable. And honestly, I like the distance from her overbearing parents because books like American Panda kinda stressed me out. Her friends are interesting, her relationships are fun to watch, and I genuinely enjoyed the end. By date 15 I KNEW who date 29 was going to be, but I still enjoyed the ride.
My biggest complaint is probably that de la Cruz clearly knows little about college (especially Ivy League) acceptance procedures, and she honestly should have Googled to avoid these mistakes. She has one character say they want to go to Princeton for law school when Princeton hasn’t had a law school since 1852 and then Jisu gets her regular admissions rejection from a school in January when those don’t actually come out until March. I know, because I went to that school.
Anyway, I’m picky, I know. But Overall I enjoyed the book!