Title: Rent a Boyfriend
Author: Gloria Chao
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: Nov 10, 2020
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
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?
Rent a Boyfriend was a frustrating, yet fantastically crafted read. I hated Hongbo, and for a minute, I really hated Chloe’s parents. However, being from a Chinese family myself, I know the stress of saving face and being seen as “obedient” so your parents are seen as “good parents” who teach responsibility and meekness. Chinese (and most East Asian) face culture is very toxic and I personally hate it.
ANYWAYS, the book. I totally understood Chloe’s impulse to try to bring home the perfect boyfriend so her parents would stop trying to set her up with Hongbo, a terrible man from a terribly manipulative family. It was so frustrating seeing her parents continuously trying to push Hongbo onto Chloe, not respecting her or Andrew when it came to their relationship (I mean – they didn’t know it was fake, like that rude?? Especially since they seemed to like him??). The situation was perfectly infuriating and frustrating as Chloe continued to question her choices and autonomy through the book.
I loved Andrew – he’s a huge softie who’s willing to fight for for Chloe, and I loved the story behind his art (ahhhh my heart). I also hate his family story, but again understood the reasons behind it, even if I didn’t like them. One thing I absolutely love about Gloria Chao’s books is that she shows that there can be a middle ground with parental relationships (though that’s still not always the case), and that it’s okay to fight for your mental health and boundaries. Personally, I’m still really struggling on that front with my family so books like these really give me hope and make me feel seen.
World Building: 4.5/5
GoodReads Rating: 3.62/5
eARC gifted via NetGalley by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers and Simon and Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review.