Rent a Boyfriend

S. & S. Nov. 2020. 400p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534462458.
Gr 7 Up–Jing-Jing (or, as she calls herself, Chloe) invents an imaginary boyfriend for her parents’ benefit. She has a good reason: They are trying to marry her off to awful Hongbo, the son of family friends, as a business arrangement rather than a love connection. Desperate, she turns to Rent for Your ’Rents, which supplies rental boyfriends for many similar situations. Her rental, Andrew, does an excellent job of portraying her supportive, potentially successful (studying medicine), family-oriented boyfriend. He does it so well that his real self, Drew, the emotional artist, never surfaces on a job. And yet, this time, Drew is having a hard time being just a fake boyfriend. As time goes on, he develops real feelings for Chloe, and finds her both brave and fierce. But Drew isn’t sure if she likes him or Andrew, his stuffy, formal, rental version. Wrought with the difficulty of navigating familial and cultural loyalty, this novel offers a glimpse into the conflicting priorities of these Chinese American young adults. Chloe wants to do the right thing for her family but isn’t willing to give up on her dreams to do so. Drew has already cut ties with his own family and knows the pain and loss it can bring.
VERDICT A potentially simple, comedic premise shows its dramatic layers with appeal for a wide audience.

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