K-Pop Confidential by Stephan Lee; narrated by Joy Osmanski
Publisher: Scholastic Audio
Release date: October 6, 2020
Candace Park has been an obedient Korean daughter watching from the sidelines as her brother is allowed to participate in sports and indulge in music while she is expected to go to college and enter a mundane career. That’s why her decision to audition for a spot in a K-Pop band is not only unexpected, but her subsequent invitation to join an intensive training program to become an idol is downright stunning. Candace convinces her staid parents to allow her to participate, and her mother accompanies her to Seoul where Candace lives in harsh conditions with cutthroat competitors.
Stephan Lee does an excellent job of creating characters that listeners invest in while at the same time exposing the double and impossible standards imposed on K-Pop stars–particularly female stars. Joy Osmanski does a superb job of capturing multiple character voices while imbuing Candace with a believable personality. The fact that Osmanski is able to sing is a bonus.
Fans of Cinderella stories like Tokyo Ever After by Emiko Jean will fall in love with Candace’s transformation. Those who love the K-Pop storyline will gravitate to Maurene Goo’s Somewhere Only We Know.
– Jodi Kruse
Other Nominated Titles
Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth; narrated by Sarah Jane Drummey (May 25, 2021)
The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.
Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are available on The Hub.