Boys I Know ended up completely captivating me. I loved how June has to navigate her own feelings about herself as well as her relationships. And for fans of complex sister relationships, this is for you! Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
June Chu is the “just good enough” girl. Good enough to line the shelves with a slew of third-place trophies and steal secret kisses from her AP Bio partner, Rhys. But not good enough to meet literally any of her Taiwanese mother’s unrelenting expectations or to get Rhys to commit to anything beyond a well-timed joke.
While June’s mother insists she follow in her (perfect) sister’s footsteps and get a (full-ride) violin scholarship to Northwestern (to study pre-med), June doesn’t see the point in trying too hard if she’s destined to fall short anyway. Instead, she focuses her efforts on making her relationship with Rhys “official.” But after her methodically-planned, tipsily-executed scheme explodes on the level of a nuclear disaster, she flings herself into a new relationship with a guy who’s not allergic to the word “girlfriend.”
But as the line between sex and love blurs, and pressure to map out her entire future threatens to burst, June will have to decide on whose terms she’s going to live her life—even if it means fraying her relationship with her mother beyond repair.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: racism, abortion
The way June navigates her Asian American identity resonated deeply with me. The way how in Boys I Know, June doesn’t feel like she fits in with other Taiwanese teens or American teens. How there’s this disconnect between this almost split identity. Never truly feeling like you fit in completely. That’s how I feel as well as a Chinese American adoptee. So June’s own struggles with her identity in Boys I Know ended up being moving.
On an entirely different level, Boys I Know is about June and love. About the person we become in a relationship and what we are looking for. The trials, pitfalls, and dangers of dating. All balanced with the joys, butterflies, and love. I empathized with how much June just wanted to mean something to someone. How sometimes possession can feel like a rush, like what we wanted, but how it isn’t partnership. And without the framework about what that would be like to learn about what we need and want.
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At the same time, the complex sister relationship was music to my ears. I love how it’s full of resentment and love. Of longing and expectations. I wasn’t expecting it based on the summary, but this element swept me away. Overall, Boys I Know is about making her own decisions and realizing she can’t control other people – only herself and her own reactions. It’s full of dating, important conversations about bodily autonomy, and friendship drama. Find Boys I Know on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.