The Way You Make Me Feel

That Clara Shin's favorite place--a hilltop overlooking her native Los Angeles--was made famous by the classic movie Rebel Without a Cause is perfectly fitting. Since getting suspended freshman year for smoking, 16-year-old Clara's been all about causing mayhem--just because. Nominated for junior prom queen, Clara makes mortal enemy Rose Carver (overachiever, class president and "long-lost Obama daughter") apoplectic when she actually wins. Victory inspires an epic prom prank that ends in a bloody (fake) all-out fight and fire (real).

To avoid suspension and offset the conflagratory damage, both girls are sentenced to working together all summer for Adrian, Clara's father, on his Korean Brazilian food truck. Trapped in un-air-conditioned tight quarters, the girls can't even manage civility. Fed up with their hostility, Adrian decides to let the sparring pair flounder or flourish and sends them off alone to manage the truck for a week. Their growing on-the-job-efficacy is surpassed only by their burgeoning, remarkable friendship. Throw in a coffee-supplying entrepreneur named Hamlet, the "kimchi squat," an impetuous runaway to Mexico and a food truck competition worth $100,000 and you're on your way to the glories of The Way You Make Me Feel.

As meltingly fun as I Believe in a Thing Called Love, Maureen Goo's follow-up also provides affecting depth, seamlessly inserting hot-topic issues including immigration (L.A. native Clara's Korean heritage via Brazil), privilege ("there's a lot of pressure on black girls to be better than everyone else"), entitlement (the glamor of social influencers), even familial abandonment (single parenthood, wealthy parental guilt assuaged with expensive gifts). From careless jokester to becoming a "total try-hard," Clara finally matures into the realization that "car[ing] so deeply" makes the "risk of the bad stuff... so worth the good stuff." --Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon

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