29 Dates by Melissa de la Cruz is an adorable romantic comedy that’s sure to elicit many giggles from its’ readers. However, the book lacks the depth required to be truly memorable, and like many within its’ genre, falls into the trap of silly twists and unlikely happenstance in its’ second half.
This book tells the story of Jisu, a talented photographer and student of one of South Korea’s most elite high schools. While Jisu is happy to float her way through life, spending time with her friends and snapping pictures, her parents have big dreams for her. Not only do they want Jisu to secure a place in a top university, they also want her to find the perfect boyfriend; setting her up on a series of blind dates with wealthy and eligible young bachelors. However, when Jisu continues to show preference for fun over study and long term planning, her parents intercede by sending her across the world to attend an American high school. Once there, Jisu meets two boys who have a big impact on her life and her world view. There’s Austin, a cute and laid back surfer who really isn’t the girlfriend type, and Dave, who starts out as a good friend to Jisu, though part of her secretly hopes for more.
Ultimately, 29 Dates is not a bad book, though it wasn’t for me. Jisu is firmly established to be a member of the upper class, her parents give no second thought to providing her with first class plane tickets or a private school education. This isn’t something that interested me, or something that I find relatable. After reading the first few chapters, I was concerned that the book would be some kind of Korean Gossip Girl, however, Jisu’s wealth doesn’t play as much of a role in the story when she arrives in America. From there, the book is fairly typical high school fare, following Jisu through crushes, dates, and university applications. There are a lot of cute and funny moments, and I think this book will appeal to fans of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before or Simon VS the Homo Sapiens Agenda.
However, there were a couple of minor plot twists near the end of the book that really lowered my opinion of 29 Dates as a whole. I won’t give away any spoilers, but I will say that parts of the ending just felt silly.