Title: Idol Gossip
Author: Alexandra Leigh Young
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Walker Books US
Release Date: September 14, 2021
An inside look at the K-pop phenomenon, in a wry, punchy young-adult debut that probes cultural differences, sisterhood, and the minefield of fame.
Every Friday after school, dressed in their new South Korean prep-school uniforms — sweater vests, knee-highs, pleated skirts, and blazers — seventeen-year old Alice Choy and her little sister, Olivia, head to Myeongdong, brave a dank, basement-level stairwell full of graffiti, and slip into a noreabang. 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, she pours herself into karaoke, vamping it up in their booth to Lady Gaga while loyal Olivia applauds and howls with laughter. Alice lives for Fridays, but when an older woman stops her on their way out one day, handing Alice a business card with a bow, singing turns serious. Could the chance encounter really be her ticket to elite status at Top10 Entertainment’s Star Academy? With a little sisterly support, backed by one of the world’s top talent agencies, can Alice lead her group on stage 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.
Delicious gossip squares off with genuine heart in a debut about standing out and fitting in, dreaming big and staying true — for avid K-pop fans and those just discovering the worldwide cultural phenomenon.
Alice Choy and her younger sister Olivia moved to South Korea with their parents after their mom got a job there. Alice always dreamed of being a singer when they lived in San Francisco, but she had to put that dream on hold when they moved. While she’s at a karaoke bar with her sister, someone from Top10 Entertainment, the company that manages the biggest K-Pop singers, hears Alice and invites her to audition. Despite not being able to dance, Alice’s strong singing voice gets her into the Star Academy, where she will be groomed to be in an upcoming K-Pop girl group. However, this isn’t an easy path, especially when an influential blogger is ready to take down any and all K-Pop stars with damaging gossip.
Being a pop star looks like a fun job from the seat of the fans. However, as this story shows, it isn’t easy to be a success. Alice had every aspect of her life controlled when she started at the Star Academy, including what and how much she ate. Her body was scrutinized and judged. Though the K-Pop singers could have so many fans and so much fame, they suffered a lot and lost their own identities on the journey to become a star.
I really enjoyed this story, but I want to know what comes next. It ended at a high point in the story, so I would love to see what happened after that point. Up until the final pages, I really didn’t know how the story would end. I wasn’t sure if Alice’s group was going to be a success or if they wouldn’t make it to the stage. I won’t spoil it, but I really hope there will be a sequel so I can find out what happens next!
Idol Gossip is a great K-Pop story!
Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo
Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen
Have you read Idol Gossip? What did you think of it?