*November 13 – Book Tour Stop*
Title: Rent A Boyfriend
Author: Gloria Chao
Published Date: November 10, 2020
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before meets The Farewell in this incisive romantic comedy about a college student who hires a fake boyfriend to appease her traditional Taiwanese parents, to disastrous results, from the acclaimed author of American Panda.
Chloe Wang is nervous to introduce her parents to her boyfriend, because the truth is, she hasn’t met him yet either. She hired him from Rent for Your ’Rents, a company specializing in providing fake boyfriends trained to impress even the most traditional Asian parents.
Drew Chan’s passion is art, but after his parents cut him off for dropping out of college to pursue his dreams, he became a Rent for Your ’Rents employee to keep a roof over his head. Luckily, learning protocols like “Type C parents prefer quiet, kind, zero-PDA gestures” comes naturally to him.
When Chloe rents Drew, the mission is simple: convince her parents fake Drew is worthy of their approval so they’ll stop pressuring her to accept a proposal from Hongbo, the wealthiest (and slimiest) young bachelor in their tight-knit Asian American community.
But when Chloe starts to fall for the real Drew—who, unlike his fake persona, is definitely not ’rent-worthy—her carefully curated life begins to unravel. Can she figure out what she wants before she loses everything?
My first impression upon seeing the title, Rent A Boyfriend was that The Kissing Quotient meets Taiwanese teenagers! Rent A Boyfriend feels like the teenager version of The Kissing Quotient by Helen Hoang! In The Kissing Quotient, the main character Stella hired an escort to help her practice in the dating department and that’s where the resemblance ends. In Rent A Boyfriend, Chloe Wang (Jing Jing 晶晶) was forced to rent a boyfriend to impress her parents to the point where they would drop the proposal from Hongbo, the richest and (snobbiest) young bachelor in their Asian-American community. She needs to find a way to change her parents’ mind before New Year’s (the deadline to say YES), when clearly all she wants to say is NO, and make a run for her life back to Chicago.
As an Asian-American myself, I understand how these “tiger parents” are, they want what they believe is “the best” for you, but without really understanding what you want. When you are in high school, they want you to make the best choices for college and career. When you graduate from college, they want you to find the best man to marry, especially if he is a millionaire. After you get married, all they will ever ask is when you will have children! I understand that being parents is a never-ending worry, but at the same time, they need to learn to give you space to make your own decisions and mistakes. Luckily, mine were pretty reasonable most of the time with my decisions. Jing Jing was not given this choice. Her parents want to make her marry someone she doesn’t LOVE! She took matters into her own hands by hiring Andrew to play the part of her boyfriend, who has won all the mooncake points from her! (Inside joke!)
I love all the cultural references such as the Mid-Autumn Festival with Cháng’é (moon goddess) and the mooncakes. The mention of qípáo (Chinese dress), miànzi (saving face is such a huge part of Asian community!), xiàoshùn (demonstrating filial piety, another huge part of Asian culture!) and mahjong. I especially love all the amazing Asian food references – chāoshāo bāo (Cantonesebun filled with barbecue pork), dòuhuā (soft tofu dessert), bubble tea, sībîng (turnip strip cake), banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich), wontons and even the Frankenbao! This is making me hungry and craving for some dim sum and Asian food.
Rent A Boyfriend had me feeling nostalgic, sad and joyful following the fake love to real love relationships between Chloe and Drew. I understand the hardship Drew had as an artist. At one point in my life I had thought I would be working in an artistic field, so I connected with Drew on that level, as well as to the hardship Chloe had as a daughter. I especially LOVE how Drew shares his art with Chloe after hiding it from the world for so long. I love the mention of Cháng’é, the moon and the sheep with antigravity boots over and over! That scene will look amazing in a movie! The buildup of Chloe and Drew’s relationship, was so on point for a rom-com movie that I would totally buy a movie ticket for it! At certain points in the story, I want to punch Hongbo for being a rich bastard who thinks he can get away with anything!
If you are ready for some good laughs and a few oh no! scenes, I highly recommend tackling this book with a smile. Gloria Chao did an amazing job representing the common practices in Asian culture and nailed the fake love to real love scenario! Luckily, I never had to consider using a Rent for Your ‘Rents service!
On a side note, my friend, @booksnraedunn shared the playlist she made for Rent A Boyfriend, The Moon Represents My Heart by Teresa Teng is running on repeat in my head!
Rating: 5 out of 5 mooncakes
Special thanks to @hearourvoicestours for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review and participation in this tour!
Gloria Chao is the critically acclaimed author of American Panda, Our Wayward Fate, and the upcoming Rent a Boyfriend (Nov 10, 2020).
When she’s not writing, you can find her with her husband on the curling ice or hiking the Indiana Dunes. After a brief detour as a dentist, she is now grateful to spend her days in fictional characters’ heads instead of real people’s mouths.
Visit her tea-and-book-filled world at GloriaChao.wordpress.com and
find her on Twitter and Instagram @GloriacChao.