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Rent a Boyfriend: 12/05/20
Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao is a rom-com set over the course of Thanksgiving, Christmas and Chinese New Year. Chloe Wang trying to avoid being forced into a relationship with the reprehensible Hongbo rents Drew to play the part of her perfect boyfriend from Chicago, Andrew.
Drew works for Rent for Your 'Rents, a company specializing in fake boyfriends for Chinese American women who are under pressure from their parents. The set up, while gender swapped and focused on Chinese culture, reminds me of the anime, Rent a Girlfriend (Summer 2020).
Chloe's mother reminds me of Lana Lee's mother from the Noodle Shop mystery series, especially in the earliest books. Chloe's mother means well and doesn't want her daughter repeating her mistakes, but she's terrible at expressing these thoughts. Instead she comes off as the most extreme of the helicopter parents.
Meanwhile, Chloe's father is stoically trying to deal with his health and the reality that he's much other than his wife. He wants to make sure his daughter will be cared for but can't see that she's perfectly capable of doing that herself.
Drew meanwhile is living with the fear that he'll never measure up to the perfect characters he plays. If he opens up to Chloe he's sure to disappoint her. He's sure to not get the approval of her parents.
All of this unfolds organically and over a believable amount of time. As it happens, I started the book during Thanksgiving and it was weird reading things in real time.