So you read this swoon-worthy story by Axie Oh, and now you’re on the hunt for books like XOXO? Welcome!
Recommending readalikes can be a tricky process, but as I said in the first post in this series, I enjoy the process of finding similar threads running through even books that appear different on the surface. Today’s pick is Axie Oh’s recent YA novel, XOXO. The book is the story of cello prodigy Jenny and the strange boy she meets in the US, who happens to be a K-Pop star as she discovers on a visit to Seoul, South Korea.
Here’s my readalike criterion: Each book I recommend must have at least three strong similarities with the beloved title. For this post, though, I’ve chosen YA books about music (K-Pop and one with a violinist), YA set in Asia, and stories with forbidden love. If you or your kids loved this book, here are more books like XOXO.
Books Like XOXO by Axie Oh
Here are 8 books like XOXO by Axie Oh
Published: September 15, 2020
A Korean-American girl finds her voice and has to navigate the complex world of K-pop stardom in this contemporary rom-com about following your heart and staying true to yourself in the process, for fans of Mary H. K. Choi and Maurene Goo.Candace Park’s life is all planned out. She takes all AP classes, helps her parents at their dry cleaner, and spends what little free time she has watching Rupaul’s Drag Race. Then there’s graduation, college, and a “Real Job.” What her parents and friends don’t really know, though, is that she has a secret passion: singing. But what’s the point? She’s never seen an Asian-American girl make it big as a singer-songwriter anyway.
So when Candace enters a K-pop audition at the mall on a dare, she doesn’t expect to actually win. She definitely doesn’t expect to plunge headfirst into the grueling world of a K-pop trainee. Especially when her parents don’t approve of it…at all.But when they offer her the chance to travel to Seoul, South Korea to train at the top Korean music company in the world, how can she pass it up? The only problem is, in addition to the round-the-clock singing lessons, dance rehearsals, and beauty treatments, Candace has to agree to follow the uber-strict rules of a trainee. The most important of which is: NO DATING.
But it becomes pretty much impossible to follow when Candace finds herself in the middle of a love triangle between a sweet boy trainee and a superstar member of the hottest boy band in the world.Will all of her hard work be wasted if she follows her heart? Or can she be the perfect, hair-flipping idol and stay true to herself at the same time?
Somewhere Only We Know
Published: May 7, 2019
10:00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she’s just performed her hit song “Heartbeat” in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She’s about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She’s in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.
11:00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She’s very cute. He’s maybe curious.
12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.
With her trademark humor and voice, Maurene Goo delivers a sparkling story of taking a chance on love―and finding yourself along the way.
Published: September 29, 2020
What would you give for a chance to live your dreams?
For seventeen-year-old Korean American Rachel Kim, the answer is almost everything. Six years ago, she was recruited by DB Entertainment—one of Seoul’s largest K-pop labels, known for churning out some of the world’s most popular stars. The rules are simple: Train 24/7. Be perfect. Don’t date. Easy right?
Not so much. As the dark scandals of an industry bent on controlling and commodifying beautiful girls begin to bubble up, Rachel wonders if she’s strong enough to be a winner, or if she’ll end up crushed… Especially when she begins to develop feelings for K-pop star and DB golden boy Jason Lee. It’s not just that he’s charming, sexy, and ridiculously talented. He’s also the first person who really understands how badly she wants her star to rise.
Get ready as Jessica Jung, K-pop legend and former lead singer of Korea’s most famous girl group, Girls’ Generation, takes us inside the luxe, hyper-color world of K-pop, where the stakes are high, but for one girl, the cost of success—and love—might be even higher. It’s time for the world to see: this is what it takes to SHINE.
Published: March 3, 2009
How to make your Korean parents happy:
1. Get a perfect score on the SATs.
2. Get into HarvardYalePrinceton.
3. Don’t talk to boys.*
Patti’s parents expect nothing less than the best from their Korean-American daughter. Everything she does affects her chances of getting into an Ivy League school. So winning assistant concertmaster in her All-State violin competition and earning less than 2300 on her SATs is simply not good enough.
But Patti’s discovering that there’s more to life than the Ivy League. To start with, there’s Cute Trumpet Guy. He’s funny, he’s talented, and he looks exactly like the lead singer of Patti’s favorite band. Then, of course, there’s her love of the violin. Not to mention cool rock concerts. And anyway, what if Patti doesn’t want to go to HarvardYalePrinceton after all?
*Boys will distract you from your studies.
Published: September 14, 2021
Every Friday after school, seventeen-year-old Alice Choy and her little sister, Olivia, head to Myeongdong to sing karaoke. Back in San Francisco, when she still had friends and earthly possessions, Alice took regular singing lessons. But since their diplomat mom moved them to Seoul, her only musical outlet is vamping it up in a private karaoke booth to an audience of one: her loyal sister. Then a scout for Top10 Entertainment, one of the biggest K-pop companies, hears her and offers her a spot at their Star Academy. Can Alice navigate the culture clashes, egos, and extreme training practices of K-pop to lead her group onstage before a stadium of 50,000 chanting fans—and just maybe strike K-pop gold? Not if a certain influential blogger and the anti-fans get their way . . .
This debut novel is about standing out and fitting in, dreaming big and staying true. It will speak to fans of K-pop and to anyone who is trying to take their talents to the next level.
Tokyo Ever After
Published: May 18, 2021
Izumi Tanaka has never really felt like she fit in―it isn’t easy being Japanese American in her small, mostly white, northern California town. Raised by a single mother, it’s always been Izumi―or Izzy, because “It’s easier this way”―and her mom against the world. But then Izumi discovers a clue to her previously unknown father’s identity…and he’s none other than the Crown Prince of Japan. Which means outspoken, irreverent Izzy is literally a princess.
In a whirlwind, Izumi travels to Japan to meet the father she never knew and discover the country she always dreamed of. But being a princess isn’t all ball gowns and tiaras. There are conniving cousins, a hungry press, a scowling but handsome bodyguard who just might be her soulmate, and thousands of years of tradition and customs to learn practically overnight.
Izumi soon finds herself caught between worlds, and between versions of herself―back home, she was never “American” enough, and in Japan, she must prove she’s “Japanese” enough. Will Izumi crumble under the weight of the crown, or will she live out her fairy tale, happily ever after?
Super Fake Love Song
Published: November 17, 2020
When Sunny meets Cirrus, he can’t believe how cool and confident she is. So when Cirrus mistakenly thinks Sunny plays guitar, he accidentally winds up telling her he’s the front man of a rock band.
Before he knows it, Sunny is knee-deep in the lie: He gets his best friends to form a fake band with him and starts dressing like a rock star. But no way can he trick this amazing girl into thinking he’s cool, right?
Just when Sunny is about to come clean, Cirrus asks to see them play sometime. Gulp.
Now there’s only one thing to do: Fake it till you make it.
I’ll Be the One
Published: June 16, 2020
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.
There they are: 7 great books like Fish in a Tree. Which of these ones have you read? Here’s a list for you if you want to read more Asian YA.
More Book Lists
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- Books for fans of The Babysitter’s Club
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