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I'll Be the One

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The world of K-Pop has never met a star like this. Debut author Lyla Lee delivers a deliciously fun, thoughtful rom-com celebrating confidence and body positivity—perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Julie Murphy. 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 The world of K-Pop has never met a star like this. Debut author Lyla Lee delivers a deliciously fun, thoughtful rom-com celebrating confidence and body positivity—perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Julie Murphy. 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.


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The world of K-Pop has never met a star like this. Debut author Lyla Lee delivers a deliciously fun, thoughtful rom-com celebrating confidence and body positivity—perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Julie Murphy. 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 The world of K-Pop has never met a star like this. Debut author Lyla Lee delivers a deliciously fun, thoughtful rom-com celebrating confidence and body positivity—perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Julie Murphy. 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.

30 review for I'll Be the One

  1. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss this was so cute. rtc!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Hillary

    Hands down the best book about Kpop I’ve read so far. It was so worth the wait 💛 “I’m fat. People think it means I should hate myself, and when I don’t, it makes them uncomfortable. But this is just another part of who I am, and I’m happy with who I am.” I’ve read a couple of books about Kpop in the last years but they were written by white writers, and guess what? They weren’t great. This book is what I wanted from the beginning. An ownvoices Korean rep makes a huge freaking difference. Take n Hands down the best book about Kpop I’ve read so far. It was so worth the wait 💛 “I’m fat. People think it means I should hate myself, and when I don’t, it makes them uncomfortable. But this is just another part of who I am, and I’m happy with who I am.” I’ve read a couple of books about Kpop in the last years but they were written by white writers, and guess what? They weren’t great. This book is what I wanted from the beginning. An ownvoices Korean rep makes a huge freaking difference. Take note, publishing. But this book wasn’t only an amazing ride with a fast paced Kpop competition that keeps you turning pages, it is also one of the most empowering books I’ve ever read. I loved the main character, Skye. She doesn’t take shit from anybody, even when people, including her mom, keep telling her she’s not fit enough to dance. The way she copes with the discrimination is to always show them that they’re wrong. The hate only makes her confidence skyrocket and we love to see that 😭✨ Fine, I think. Just one more person to prove wrong. Added to the list. I also really really loved the bisexual rep, this book is full of positivity in every sense. One thing I wasn’t a fan of was the romance. I felt pretty neutral towards it, and while it was a healthy and 100% supportive relationship, it never gave me the butterflies. When this book was announced I was stoked to know that Skye would fall for one of her competitors, but in the end it wasn’t really what I liked about this book. Which is absolutely not a bad thing! Honestly, the book would have been amazing even without the romance. The Kpop competition was so interesting on its own that everything else fell to the background for me. The writing was special, very easy to read and to fly through. There was the right amount of dialogue and description, and it never feels like the story is going nowhere. At times it was a bit ridiculous, like the expression “blow out of the water” was repeated throughout the book and it kind of made me laugh a little bit. Also Skye would do something and she would justify her action, as if silencing the reader before they started to judge. Chill Skye, I don’t need to know why you let Henry pay or why you’re facetiming while walking. It’s okay, I won’t say anything 😂 I loved that there was no drama at the end like YA usually does, and I’m proud of myself for knowing almost all the songs mentioned. I was so excited about Ailee being in the book because she’s literally the first Kpop idol I thought about when I started reading! I want to be the type of K-pop star who can sing and dance really well, so I can show everyone that big bodies aren’t something to be afraid of. I grew up thinking someone my size could never dance. And I don’t want the other kids watching at home to think that too. If you are looking for a chef’s kiss YA book about Kpop with wholesome bi and fat rep, look no further. ****** Book: plus-sized bisexual Korean-American enters a tv reality competition to be a kpop star and falls in love with her famous competitor Me: *throws money* Me after seeing that cover: 😭😭🌈🌈🌈❤️

  3. 4 out of 5

    destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]

    "bisexual Korean-American teen girl"... "first plus-sized K-pop star"... *weeps in anticipation* Plus this author's MG series is SO CUTE so I have super high hopes for this?! Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jananie (thisstoryaintover)

    UM. HI. THIS WAS LIKE THE BEST THING EVER?! This was the sweetest, most fun I've had with a book in a while! I LOVED our main girl Skye and how unapologetically herself she is. Skye is plus-size and bisexual and she lives her life the way she wants (and deserves!) to live it. The love interest was equally squishy and sweet and I just wanted the best for all the of side characters as well. Overall, a WONDERFUL contemporary with great diversity and compelling writing 😍HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

  5. 5 out of 5

    R.F. Kuang

    Every bit as adorable, funny, sweet, and inclusive as ya'll are hoping it'll be. Loved it :)

  6. 5 out of 5

    faith ✨

    bi fat Korean-American MC in a K-pop survival show . . . I'm going to need you guys to GET ON THIS rtc

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    4.5 I loved this sweet, warm, empowering read. Skye is an amazing character and I loved her from the first page, when she was 5 and telling her mom she’d prove her wrong. I loved that this one tackled so many complex issues, like fat phobia and cultural ideals head on. I was so engrossed in this story, I finished it in one sitting. I highly recommend this one when you’re in the mood for a book with a lot of heart and a character who doesn’t back down. I received an advanced copy in exchange for my 4.5 I loved this sweet, warm, empowering read. Skye is an amazing character and I loved her from the first page, when she was 5 and telling her mom she’d prove her wrong. I loved that this one tackled so many complex issues, like fat phobia and cultural ideals head on. I was so engrossed in this story, I finished it in one sitting. I highly recommend this one when you’re in the mood for a book with a lot of heart and a character who doesn’t back down. I received an advanced copy in exchange for my review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Noura Khalid (theperksofbeingnoura)

    Thank you Katherine Tegen Books for the gifted review copy! How can I write a coherent review for this glorious book? I mean I knew I would really enjoy it but I fell in love with it so much more than I even expected. The book was so inspiring and played with my heart strings. I honestly felt hooked from the first chapter. I really enjoyed how easy it was to read. The writing was something I got lost in easily and before I knew it I had already read several chapters. Skye is possibly one of my mos Thank you Katherine Tegen Books for the gifted review copy! How can I write a coherent review for this glorious book? I mean I knew I would really enjoy it but I fell in love with it so much more than I even expected. The book was so inspiring and played with my heart strings. I honestly felt hooked from the first chapter. I really enjoyed how easy it was to read. The writing was something I got lost in easily and before I knew it I had already read several chapters. Skye is possibly one of my most favorite main characters, period. She’s this complete ray of sunshine and I just love her confidence. She loves herself and despite everything that she has been through she still remains the most positive and loving person there is. I’m not fat so I can’t pretend to know what fatphobia must feel like and I’m not an ownvoice. I do have a few things to say. I love how body positive Skye was. I loved to see her comfortable in her own body. I loved that she proved that the fault was not in her but in the people around her. The unbelievable beauty standards that our societies have. I’ve read so much about Korean beauty standards and the things people go through for that approval whether willingly or not, especially in the Kpop industry. I love that the author pointed this out and called it out here. I love that the author also showed the effect that the shaming and horrible comments can have on someone even if they do love their body. From time to time the things that people say will seep through the cracks. Henry Cho was so easy to love! If I’m being honest all the friends that Skye made were. I loved that we got a good look at their relationships and how supportive they all were of each other. Henry was the biggest softie! He’s also easily one of my favorite characters. He wasn’t one of those characters that starts off as a jerk and then suddenly becomes all sweet. He just was sweet from the very beginning. I loved that the author showed what it was like on his side with being a model and everything. You truly never know what someones life is like or what they’re going through or have had to go through. Someone’s Instagram feed doesn’t give anyone the right to just assume something about someone. I loved that the relationship between him and Skye was so simple and cute. I needed something fluffy and this book came right in! Skye, Tiffany and Lana were my favorite friendship. Their relationship was supporting all around and I just love girls supporting girls so much. Steve and Portia were also so nice and I loved how they were around Skye as the story progressed. I’m personally a huge fan of Kpop and have been for years. So all the songs and groups mentioned made me have so many fangirl moments. I loved reading about the competitions. It was very frustrating at times because of the things that Skye had to go through and the awful people she met, but if Skye proved anything it’s that she is the most amazing and confident person there is. That ending was everything I had hoped for and so much more! I’ve written so much and I don’t really know what else to say other than I loved this book and you need to read it! This has become a new favorite and I’m definitely going to be looking out for future books by Lyla Lee. --- Thank you to the publishers for a gifted review copy! Going to have to start this one asap 😍

  9. 5 out of 5

    Fadwa (Word Wonders)

    I was sent an ARC of this book in exchange of an honest review CW: fatphobia, talk of queerphobia and non-accepting families, parental emotional abuse. THIS! WAS! SO! CUTE! AND! FUN! Okay, I must admit that, at first, I had a bit of a hard time getting into the writing. The author chose to lay down all the conflicts in the first couple chapters and that just...does not work for me. I like when it's gradual and implicit instead of being told "this this and this is what the MC is going to face in th I was sent an ARC of this book in exchange of an honest review CW: fatphobia, talk of queerphobia and non-accepting families, parental emotional abuse. THIS! WAS! SO! CUTE! AND! FUN! Okay, I must admit that, at first, I had a bit of a hard time getting into the writing. The author chose to lay down all the conflicts in the first couple chapters and that just...does not work for me. I like when it's gradual and implicit instead of being told "this this and this is what the MC is going to face in this book" so I was skeptical at first, especially since the pattern of being told that something is wrong was perpetuated throughout the book instead of showing the scene and letting the reader draw their own conclusions. That being said, I've been so excited for this book for so long that I decided to push through and see where the story was headed. And I'm SO GLAD I did. About a third -or a little over that- through the book, the writing got better or I got used to it, either way, I found myself invested enough in the characters and the competition that the writing didn't bother me much anymore. I just let it do the job of telling the story. A story that's equally soft, fun and meaningful. It did quite a few things and it did them right. First of all, the fat representation and fatphobia. Before I talk about this, know that I am not fat so I'm not talking about it from an ownvoices lense but I found this to be really well done. I loved seeing a fat main character who was utterly comfortable in her body and the conflict came from outside, not from within. That being said Lee also showed that always being scrutinized by everyone for the way you look does take a toll, and no matter how confident you are, those comments and remarks are bound to get to you and make you doubt yourself from time to time. Especially when coming from someone who's supposed to protect you. Namely your mother, her relationship with her mom was so hard to read and I found myself feeling for her but was glad that her dad was at least there to counterbalance everything. But not only her mom, especially with Skye being out in the public eye, the judges of the competition, fellow competitors and people online also all thought they had a right to comment on her body. And I loved how she handled it each time, sometimes standing up to them, sometimes letting things go and sometimes just...being tired of it and unable to react. It just felt realistic. The author used this whole ordeal to call out the outrageous beauty standards in Korean culture and especially in the K-pop scene and everything the artists and put through. It's so awful it gave me chills, as someone who has really never been into the music. The competition was fun but what I liked most are the relationships Skye got out of it. First up, here romance with Henry, the Korean model who's a huge cinnamon roll you just want to hug and protect. Their relationship developed so organically through the book, their banter was easy and natural and their chemistry extremely obvious, especially when dancing. Both of them are bi, and I liked how through that as well as two of their friends, we were shown that Korean culture is still not accepting of queer people and all the hoops they have to jump through to be happy, most times very far away from their families. My favorite friendship Skye formed is the one with Lana and Tiffany who make such a cute couple and I gobbled up every single moment she spent with them because of how unconditionally supportive of her they were. Also, CAN WE TALK ABOUT SNOWBALL???? cutest dog in literary history and I will take no arguments. Do I recommend? Yes! it was such a fast and cute read, with its serious moments and topics.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sophia

    oh man, i REALLY really REALLY really wanted to love this one. what it really boils down to is: this book is one of those projects where i think the importance of its existence is so astronomical, but the execution of it was disappointingly lackluster. positives: korean american rep, bi rep, fat rep, incredible tackling of so many salient issues all at once in a way that makes you wanna cheer the author on negatives: kind of everything else? i found the writing style to be so poor. characters we oh man, i REALLY really REALLY really wanted to love this one. what it really boils down to is: this book is one of those projects where i think the importance of its existence is so astronomical, but the execution of it was disappointingly lackluster. positives: korean american rep, bi rep, fat rep, incredible tackling of so many salient issues all at once in a way that makes you wanna cheer the author on negatives: kind of everything else? i found the writing style to be so poor. characters were flat, dialogue was canned or clunky, character dynamics were one-dimensional, romance lacked chemistry. i really see what the author is trying to do here and i want to respect that, but the story just lacked craft. if you're interested in this book, go for it, because i think it's doing great and significant work. but i found myself disappointed and wanting the story to work better than it did.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    Star Rating: —> 4.5 Stars! Okay literally... I don’t even know how to rate this because this book, while it has some great reps, and some pretty heavy topics (bullying, fat shaming, emotional abuse).... it somehow all manages to feel like you’re eating... idk fluffy marshmallows. The premise is: Skye Shin wants to be the world’s first female plus-sized K-Pop Star. She tries out for a K-Pop talent competition originating from Seoul, Korea, that this year sets up shop in LA— You’re My Shining Star, Star Rating: —> 4.5 Stars! Okay literally... I don’t even know how to rate this because this book, while it has some great reps, and some pretty heavy topics (bullying, fat shaming, emotional abuse).... it somehow all manages to feel like you’re eating... idk fluffy marshmallows. The premise is: Skye Shin wants to be the world’s first female plus-sized K-Pop Star. She tries out for a K-Pop talent competition originating from Seoul, Korea, that this year sets up shop in LA— You’re My Shining Star, and gets in— for BOTH voice AND dance categories! I honestly couldn’t put this down. It was empowering to women everywhere, it was witty, adorable, charming, It was swoon worthy- a celebrity, Henry Cho is in the competition with Skye and each catch the other’s eye 😉, and boy did it have me biting my nails in suspense every time an elimination came up! Theres’s just SOMETHING about Skye that you inherently like & want to root for! This is a book essentially about standing up and saying— I LOVE WHO I AM, SO STOP TRYING TO CHANGE ME! and Skye does just that. She is plus-sized, and loves her figure— and is SO SICK of haters bullying her, who tell her that she isn’t beautiful because she’s fat. Or that she can’t dance because she’s fat. She is straight up sick of Korean beauty standards, especially in the music industry. She is also sick of being either berated by her mother who makes comments about her weight constantly and even asks her “don’t you want to be skinny & beautiful?” more times than I can count on one hand during the book. Because she KNOWS she’s beautiful; she knows she can sing, and she knows she can damn well dance, and will be the one who wins the competition! Its sweet but not TOO sweet and even believable, IMO! Incredible reps in way of korean culture in LA, in general- korean culture, K-POP ;-). Bi rep!!! Say whhhooooooopp all my bi friends in the house! Lol. So rare i come across a book with a Bi rep that is unambiguous so i’m loving feeling represented in that regard! Anyway! Highly recommend if you’re looking for a fun read! BUDDY READ W/ MY LOVEEEE DARCE! 💛

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jaime

    This is literally all I've ever wanted ✨ Cute diverse YA romcom ✨ A bisexual, fat, Korean-American protagonist ✨ Skye is comfortable with her weight ✨ Gettin' enemies to lovers vibes and we all know I fuck with that ✨ The love interest is also bi ✨ The bi and Korean-American rep is #ownvoices ✨ It's going to show the good and bad of the K-Pop industry ✨ Read this thread the author made bc I got hella emotional/hyped reading it This is literally all I've ever wanted ✨ Cute diverse YA romcom ✨ A bisexual, fat, Korean-American protagonist ✨ Skye is comfortable with her weight ✨ Gettin' enemies to lovers vibes and we all know I fuck with that ✨ The love interest is also bi ✨ The bi and Korean-American rep is #ownvoices ✨ It's going to show the good and bad of the K-Pop industry ✨ Read this thread the author made bc I got hella emotional/hyped reading it

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lea (drumsofautumn)

    I'll be the One is a stand-out novel when it comes to the representation and portrayal of being a fat Korean girl trying to make it in the K-Pop industry but sadly doesn't deliver a compelling storyline or relationships. “I'm fat. People think it means I should hate myself and when I don't, it makes them uncomfortable. But this is just another part of who I am, and I'm happy with who I am.” Now before I start this review, I wanna say that I am not and never have been fat, I am white an I'll be the One is a stand-out novel when it comes to the representation and portrayal of being a fat Korean girl trying to make it in the K-Pop industry but sadly doesn't deliver a compelling storyline or relationships. “I'm fat. People think it means I should hate myself and when I don't, it makes them uncomfortable. But this is just another part of who I am, and I'm happy with who I am.” Now before I start this review, I wanna say that I am not and never have been fat, I am white and I have never tried to get into the K-Pop industry, so I understand that my experience is VASTLY different from Skye's and much easier and privileged in many ways. But I will say that I had an immense appreciation for the portrayal of someone with a "non-conventional" body trying to make it an industry that was very fixed ideas on how you are supposed to look like. As someone who has been dancing her entire life too and has always been eyeing with making it my career (eventually settling on musical theatre), I do have lots of similar stories to share of people doubting my abilities because of the way that I looked, people telling me I couldn't do certain things or being surprised that I was as good as I was. And this novel just meant a lot to me for that aspect alone. I found Skye's experience to be so incredibly relatable and it made me reflect on a lot of things that I had experienced but also how much I had changed with how I see my body and its "value" within the industry. Anyway, I just really wanted to talk about this first because, again, this aspect means a lot to me personally and certainly had a huge impact on how I feel about this book and I just deeply appreciate this portrayal. One of the biggest aspects talked about in this book is Skye's relationship with her mother, which is.. rocky at best. Skye's mother makes constant comments about her body, telling her she shouldn't dance because of the way she looks and she not only very negatively influenced Skye's body image but also her relation to food (although that is only mentioned briefly, as it happened in the past). Basically all her life, Skye had to hear from her mum that she is not good enough and not only should she herself be ashamed of the way that she looks but also it becomes very clear very fast, that her mum is ashamed of her daughter's body too. This relationship was not an easy one to read about, although sadly something that many people will be able to relate to too. I loved seeing the way that Skye stood up against her mother specifically. It is sad that Skye had to fight to hard to love her own body because no one told her that it is okay to do so but I liked to see the portrayal of how Skye ended up being so incredibly body-positive, despite growing up with a mum like this. I had some conflicting feelings about how the relationship between Skye and her mum was wrapped up though. In a way I liked how it ended in regards to how Skye's mum saw her own daughter at the end of the novel and the way that Skye came to terms with it. On the other hand, the term emotional abuse gets mentioned earlier on in the book and that is something that NEVER ends up getting addressed again, which I find disappointing at the very least but maybe even slightly questionable. “My mum is who she is. But I can still change myself and what sort of impact I have on other people. So I'm going to try to become stronger as a person and keep having a positive impact on people, like I have here.” In general, Skye defied every person that tried to tell her it was impossible to be a fat K-Pop idol. Skye wants to make this dream of hers come true and she is not letting anybody tell her she can't do it because she knows she has the talent for it, it's just that society is thinking she can't just because of the way that she looks. I love Skye's determination in making it in the industry without changing who she is, for herself, but also to be a role model and inspiration for other people. I truly loved this portrayal so very much. I will say that while it was interesting to see Skye during the competition, I definitely wish we had seen her life after it. To me personally, this is where the weak storyline aspect comes in. The competition wasn't particularly compelling to read about. A lot of this novel focuses on the issues at hand and while, of course, these are topics that are important and need to be talked about and, as should be apparent from the rest of this review, is representation that I appreciate deeply, I think that in some ways the storyline ended up being lacking due to it. The main relationship within the novel is m/f but Skye identifies as bi and we have several queer side-characters and a side-relationship that is f/f and gets introduced very early on in the novel. This novel also touches upon the queerphobia in many Korean families and Skye talks about how she would never be allowed to date a girl. There is honestly not much for me to say about the romantic relationship in this book. Quite frankly, I found it very forgettable and can't really remember any specific moments between the two characters. I guess I just didn't really feel the romantic chemistry and I don't think this aspect stood out in any particular way. “'You are beautiful,' I whisper to myself. 'Don't let anyone, not even yourself, tell you any different.” Another aspect that gets briefly mentioned is the colourism within the K-Pop industry, called out by a Black side character. I definitely wish that this aspect had gotten a little bit more attention but I also understand that there is only so much you can do in one novel and I appreciate that it was acknowledged. Overall I think that I'll be the One is a novel with incredibly important representation and some really refreshing aspects, especially considering how it seems to be a trend to publish novels about K-Pop right now. I hope we continue to see different kinds of experiences around this topic and I think that this novel is an incredibly important and big step forward. I would definitely recommend this overall. I had a very pleasant reading experience and despite a lot of its tougher topics, found this to be a delightful read because Skye is truly a delightful character. Trigger and Content warnings for fatphobia, queerphobia, talk of dieting and restrictive eating (even leading to hospitalization) in the past. Buddy read with Melanie ♥ ♦ Instagram ♦ Booktube Channel ♦ Twitter ♦ I received an ARC through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany (Read By Tiffany)

    This cover makes me happy 🥺💛 Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Bloglovin This cover makes me happy 🥺💛 Blog | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Bloglovin

  15. 5 out of 5

    Aimal (Bookshelves & Paperbacks)

    OWNVOICES. PLUS-SIZED KOREAN AMERICAN BI GIRL WHO ENTERS A REALITY COMPETITION WHEW IM STOKED

  16. 4 out of 5

    rachel ☾

    ➸ Trigger warnings for (view spoiler)[queermisia (nop) and queermisic parents mentioned, coming out themes recounted and on-page, fat-shaming and body shaming (central theme), unhealthy food and weight thoughts discussed, verbal and emotional parental abuse, hospitalisation of a child due to malnutrition mentioned, bullying, and cyberbullying and cyberharassment (hide spoiler)] . ▷ Representation: Skye (mc) is fat, bi & Korean; Henry (li) is bi & Korean; Tiffany & Lana (scs) are East Asian & lesbi ➸ Trigger warnings for (view spoiler)[queermisia (nop) and queermisic parents mentioned, coming out themes recounted and on-page, fat-shaming and body shaming (central theme), unhealthy food and weight thoughts discussed, verbal and emotional parental abuse, hospitalisation of a child due to malnutrition mentioned, bullying, and cyberbullying and cyberharassment (hide spoiler)] . ▷ Representation: Skye (mc) is fat, bi & Korean; Henry (li) is bi & Korean; Tiffany & Lana (scs) are East Asian & lesbian; Black, Asian & Latine scs. Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Blog • Trigger Warning Database • Twitter • Instagram

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mimi

    I'm calling it, this is the feel-good book of the year 🙌🏻

  18. 5 out of 5

    Adri

    4.5 Stars CWs: Incurred fatphobia, bullying, online harassment, verbal harassment, peripheral instances of homophobia, and some explorations of emotional abuse (from parent) and subsequent trauma Skye Shin is my hero. She's really out here entering international K-pop competitions to show the the world that she can be fat AND sing, she can be fat AND dance, and she can be fat and sing WHILE she dances like the complete badass she is. I've never read a story like this that tackles fatphobia and 4.5 Stars CWs: Incurred fatphobia, bullying, online harassment, verbal harassment, peripheral instances of homophobia, and some explorations of emotional abuse (from parent) and subsequent trauma Skye Shin is my hero. She's really out here entering international K-pop competitions to show the the world that she can be fat AND sing, she can be fat AND dance, and she can be fat and sing WHILE she dances like the complete badass she is. I've never read a story like this that tackles fatphobia and the journey towards body positivity head-on. The book really hits the nail on the head in terms of addressing how people have preconceived notions about what fat bodies can and cannot do, and how people conflate body type with health when there's really no correlation between the two. Skye has internalized so much shame about her body and how she should make herself smaller to make others feel comfortable or hide herself away so no one can see, and she's reaching a breaking point where she can no longer accept that as her life. Skye doesn't need anyone else to accept her or love her, because she can do that for herself, and if people are uncomfortable with her radical self love and her right to take up space—well, that's their problem and not hers. This story is about Skye learning to stand up for herself, yes, but it's also about how the burden of fighting for her right to exist should never have been hers to take on in the first place. I also appreciate the way this story exposes the thin line between "strict Asian parenting" and emotional abuse. We see how Skye's mother, especially, is always critizing Skye and her body "out of concern" and "out of love," but also how saying harmful things with "good intentions" is still not right. Period. The resulting trauma of such parenting is very real for Skye, and she's learning that she might never have a good and supportive relationship with her mother, and that's okay. Her endgame is to stand within her own light, not to change someone who won't be moved. Another awesome thing is we have a wonderful romance between TWO queer Korean characters, which is so awesome. It shows how even though Skye and Henry are heading towards what appears to be a straight-passing relationship, they're both still bi AF, and that's pretty freaking cool. Bisexual folks in straight-passing relationships are no less bi, and I love that this story celebrates that! Overall, I had such a good time reading this book! It has the BEST K-Pop references, an amazingly fun competition element that is showcased a lot throughout the story, a really sweet romance, stellar commentary on body positivity, and a conclusion that is joyous and authentic. This one should be on everyone's list, not only because it's going to save so many lives, but because it's fricken awesome to boot.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nicole N. (A Myriad of Books)

    12/9/19: LOOK AT IT. Getting the cover it DESERVES!!!! (1/30/19): I hope there's a plus size Korean model on the cover because that's what this book deserves. 12/9/19: LOOK AT IT. Getting the cover it DESERVES!!!! (1/30/19): I hope there's a plus size Korean model on the cover because that's what this book deserves.

  20. 4 out of 5

    ♠ Tabi ♠

    body positivity in the K-pop world?? this is beyond necessary by now and I cannot wait

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    This book is a total delight. Skye is a fat, bisexual Korean-American girl trying out for the opportunity to become the next K-Pop star. And then she meets Henry -- a model with a huge Instagram following and finds herself falling for him deeply. There's a lot here about body image, and specifically, abut body image and Korean cultural norms. Lee notes in her acknowledgements she isn't and never has been fat, but it's clear she's done work here and makes Skye real and relatable. She rings very tr This book is a total delight. Skye is a fat, bisexual Korean-American girl trying out for the opportunity to become the next K-Pop star. And then she meets Henry -- a model with a huge Instagram following and finds herself falling for him deeply. There's a lot here about body image, and specifically, abut body image and Korean cultural norms. Lee notes in her acknowledgements she isn't and never has been fat, but it's clear she's done work here and makes Skye real and relatable. She rings very true. A whole lot of fun.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Caidyn (BW Reviews; he/him/his)

    I received an ARC through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review! CW: fatphobia, forced dieting, hospitalizations from dieting, biphobia and homophobia (implied within the Korean culture), and emotional abuse If I could leave this review as this, I would. Because that describes my reaction to this book. It was absolutely wonderful and my love of it entirely surprised even me. My main want when I requested this was Asian American, queer, fat teen going against what everyone says that she should I received an ARC through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review! CW: fatphobia, forced dieting, hospitalizations from dieting, biphobia and homophobia (implied within the Korean culture), and emotional abuse If I could leave this review as this, I would. Because that describes my reaction to this book. It was absolutely wonderful and my love of it entirely surprised even me. My main want when I requested this was Asian American, queer, fat teen going against what everyone says that she should do. But this book was so much more than that. Skye has always been fat. Her mother has tried to get her to lose weight. She gets tons of comments about her weight, especially the belief that she shouldn't dance because of it. There's a competition that she wants to join to become the next K-pop star. She could go for singing (and she is an amazing singer), dancing, or both. Against her mother's wishes, she does both. And gets in. There, she meets new queer people and makes new friends, including Henry Cho, a Korean model and dancer. I loved everyone and how this book showed the fatphobia in the Asian, specifically Korean, community. I had an understanding that it was a thing before going into this book. Growing up, I did taekwondo (Korean martial arts) and so I was exposed to some of that. I was very young, so it didn't matter much to me. But it was there. While there is a lot of fatphobic comments within this book, it's all confronted and shown to be ridiculous. I love books about body positivity and I loved it within this one. I just... this book was perfect. It was a great book to end Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and a fantastic book to begin Pride with. I have it preordered so I can have the finished copy on my shelf! Aka, pick it up, y'all!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Zoë ☆

    I’ll Be the One is uplifting, heartwarming, inspiring and so much fun to read!! 💕 It was everything I expected from it and more 🙌🏻 The main character was so confident and it was really inspiring to read from her perspective. The people she met in the book were also so much fun to read about! Plus, I’m a sucker for competitions so I really enjoyed that aspect as well! The book wasn’t all fun to read as it dealt with fat-phobia and what kind of effect that can have on someone’s confidence, but it’ I’ll Be the One is uplifting, heartwarming, inspiring and so much fun to read!! 💕 It was everything I expected from it and more 🙌🏻 The main character was so confident and it was really inspiring to read from her perspective. The people she met in the book were also so much fun to read about! Plus, I’m a sucker for competitions so I really enjoyed that aspect as well! The book wasn’t all fun to read as it dealt with fat-phobia and what kind of effect that can have on someone’s confidence, but it’s an important conversation to have. I would highly recommend you pick this up when it’s out on June 16th! It’s the perfect summer read and one of my new favourite contemporaries 😍✨ Thanks so much to HarperCollins International to providing me with an e-arc!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nev

    This was such a sweet book! Skye Shin enters a kpop survival show, wanting to prove that as a fat girl she can sing and dance with the best of them. Along the way she makes some friends, begins a romance, deals with fatphobia from her mom and people involved with the show, and shows how she doesn’t have to change herself to be happy and successful. I appreciated how queer this book is. It’s not totally apparent from the synopsis, but Skye and her love interest Henry are both bi and the two frien This was such a sweet book! Skye Shin enters a kpop survival show, wanting to prove that as a fat girl she can sing and dance with the best of them. Along the way she makes some friends, begins a romance, deals with fatphobia from her mom and people involved with the show, and shows how she doesn’t have to change herself to be happy and successful. I appreciated how queer this book is. It’s not totally apparent from the synopsis, but Skye and her love interest Henry are both bi and the two friends that Skye makes during the show are both lesbians. So there is a lot of discussion about being queer in a Korean or Korean-American family and how that’s not always easy. While there are a lot of cute, fun moments in the book it also does handle more serious topics like emotional abuse from parents. Skye’s mom is so critical of her weight and is constantly fat-shaming her. I liked how the book showed Skye’s process of standing up to her mom and not excusing her actions. Sometimes I did feel like the writing wasn’t the strongest. I think I would’ve had a really hard time imagining the dances if I hadn’t already seen videos of the choreography they were doing. On the one hand I did really love how Lyla Lee used actual kpop songs and choreographies in the story. But it also seemed like it was a way to get out of truly describing what was happening if she could just say they were doing the choreography for IDOL by BTS. Even though I think that there are some technical aspects of this book that aren’t the strongest I still thoroughly enjoyed my time reading it. I’d definitely recommend checking it out for a fun YA story with some serious elements sprinkled in.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ⚔️ Queen of Villainy ⚔️ Campbell

    K-POP AND BODY POSITIVITY????? ?!?!?!?!?! !!!!!!! YES.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Eva B.

    Hi it's me, just screaming about how happy I am that this book exists-

  27. 5 out of 5

    Danielle (Life of a Literary Nerd)

    So much about I'll Be the One made me absolutely giddy while reading it. It was the most perfect form of escapism I could have asked for. Skye Shin is an amazing and inspirational person. She's confident, effervescent, dedicated, and an all around happy-inducing person. I devoured this book- I could not put it down. The competition was fast paced and frustrating at times, while Skye has to deal with awful fatphobia. But she never let another person's opinions define her and I respect the hell ou So much about I'll Be the One made me absolutely giddy while reading it. It was the most perfect form of escapism I could have asked for. Skye Shin is an amazing and inspirational person. She's confident, effervescent, dedicated, and an all around happy-inducing person. I devoured this book- I could not put it down. The competition was fast paced and frustrating at times, while Skye has to deal with awful fatphobia. But she never let another person's opinions define her and I respect the hell out of her for that. The friendships that Skye develops with Lana, Tiffany, Imani, and Henry are all great. They each are facing difficulties that are not being shied away from: Lana and Tiffany are in a relationship and were kicked out of their houses for their sexuality, Imani is confronting the racism of the Western and Asian media markets who co-opt Black culture while not accepting the Black people, and Henry's media spotlight makes being close to others much more difficult, especially after his parents reject his bisexuality earlier in his career and contributed to isolating him from his school friends. But all of their shared scenes were so uplifting and supportive. And I loved the sweet moments between Skye and Henry as they got to know one another. All their car ride chats were perfect and let us get to know them too. They are such an adorable couple and I love them a whole bunch. I'll Be the One is such a positive and uplifting story, even thought Skye has to confront fatphobia, online harassment, and emotional abuse from her mom. She embraces all aspects of herself: fat, bisexual, singer, dancer, and loves each part. It was a joy to read and I cannot wait to see what happens next. I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

  28. 4 out of 5

    Opal

    4.5⭐️ So I got the book today, finished the book today, and I absolutely loved it. I just finished and all I can think about is...“You about to lose yo job—you about to lose yo job, get this dance”🤣👌A proper review is soon to come.

  29. 4 out of 5

    USOM

    (Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) TW: fatphobia, queerphobia, emotional abuse I have been looking forward to I'll Be the One for months now and it was so fantastic. I'll Be the One examines beauty standards both in American and Korean culture, the pressures we have to shrink who we are, and the beauty in finding joy. Featuring a whole bunch of queer characters who are utterly delightful - Skye is bisexual and she has (Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) TW: fatphobia, queerphobia, emotional abuse I have been looking forward to I'll Be the One for months now and it was so fantastic. I'll Be the One examines beauty standards both in American and Korean culture, the pressures we have to shrink who we are, and the beauty in finding joy. Featuring a whole bunch of queer characters who are utterly delightful - Skye is bisexual and she has two friends who are in a sapphic relationship - I'll Be the One examines Skye's dealing with people's intolerance regarding her sexuality and appearance. I can't speak to any of the marginalizations in this book (Korean American, fat, or bisexual), but I'll Be the One offers a nuanced look at all of these pieces of Skye. Skye balances her Korean culture through her mother's "tough love" approach and the beauty standards to which Korean women are subjected. Since it's a K-Pop competition, it's heavily influenced by what would work in Korea and Korean beauty standards. At the same time, Skye struggles with the fatphobia of her mother, her peers, and the judges. Skye herself is entirely comfortable with her body, it's about everyone else who judges her and makes assumptions. Or even, in the case of her mother, who is ashamed of her. I loved seeing how she celebrated her abilities and her appearance which came from her own love and positivity. But Lee did not hide how the amounts of comments from other people, especially her mother, still hurts her and can cause her to question herself. full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...

  30. 5 out of 5

    Raven

    Thank you to Harper Collins Canada for sending me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Truly an amazing and unique story about a girl struggling with body image in Korean culture. It’s hard enough living a society with such high beauty expectations it’s even 10 times worse within Korean society. Skye is a 16 year old Korean American who auditions on the show “You’re my Shinning Star”. Similar to American Idol for singing and dancing. The winner gets to have the opportunity to a Thank you to Harper Collins Canada for sending me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Truly an amazing and unique story about a girl struggling with body image in Korean culture. It’s hard enough living a society with such high beauty expectations it’s even 10 times worse within Korean society. Skye is a 16 year old Korean American who auditions on the show “You’re my Shinning Star”. Similar to American Idol for singing and dancing. The winner gets to have the opportunity to a trainee in K-pop industry. As some who is considering g “overweight” she fights through the stigma that K-POP stars need to be skinny and prove tho everyone that she can win the competition. The character was great, she was strong but insecure, loud but quiet, kind but not afraid to stand up for herself. She is flawed just like everyone else and a character that I feel like many people can release to in some way. The pop culture reference were on point! Not only within the KPOP world but the music industry and book culture. I found myself listening to all the kpop music mentioned in the book and found some new favourite artists and songs to add to my playlist. It was fun to read KPOP songs that I recognized and loved. It connected me to the book and characters more. Of course, BTS was mentioned often, but so were other KPOP artists. It was amazing to read. The family dynamic was strange. I struggling with understanding the relationship her father and mother had with each other and I don’t think the book gave enough time for that to develop. I would have liked a little more focus on the family or non at all. The romance was ADORABLE. I loved every moment of it and often squealed and giggled out loud. However, I wish Skye (who identifies as bi) explored her sexuality more with both genders. I also felt like the romance had no conflict at the end. It’s hard to explain without spoilers, but I felt like there needed to be more struggle toward the last 30% of the book. Especially considering he is a celebrity, there are some complications that come with that which was shown in the beginning of the story, but seemed to go away at the end. The competition was so much fun to read. It was like pulling back the curtain of a reality TV show. But I felt as tho it went by really fast. Especially the ending when they announced the winner. There was no build up like the other rounds. It was anti climactic. I would have liked to see more about how he life changed when the show began to air on TV and people began to recognize her. There were some flaws in the story both in plot, pacing and relationships. I think the book needed to be long to explore other topics brought up and let other issues have time to settle. None the less, it didn’t shadow my enjoyment of the story at all. I still loved every minute of reading it. I was laughing out loud, giggling, screaming and had an amazing experience reading it. Which in the end, is the most important thing to me. I really hope there will be a book 2. I would love to see what the next chapter of Skye’s life.

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