Hello and welcome to our monthly Read the Rainbow discussion spotlight! Well it’s bimonthly this time because the more queer books and discussions we have the better 🙂
Read the Rainbow is a spotlight for queer books, authors and readers. Every month, I’ll be hosting an interview or discussion centered around a queer book. The interviews will be conducted with authors and the discussions will take place with #ownvoice readers for each book. Every month, I’ll be announcing the book of the month for Read the Rainbow so that everyone can read the book before the spotlight, although it is not a necessity.
Our second July BOTM is I’ll Be The One by Lyla Lee features a fat, bi MC with bi and lesbian side characters.
The world of K-Pop has never met a star like this. Debut author Lyla Lee delivers a deliciously fun, thoughtful rom-com celebrating confidence and body positivity—perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Julie Murphy.
Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.
She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.
When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.
But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition—without losing herself.
I’m so excited to have Enne on my blog today! They and I will be discussing I’ll Be The One by Lyla Lee. As per usual the discussion remains spoiler-free.
Enne (they/them) is an avid reader of all things YA and a book blogger over at Our Worlds of Words. They also love writing and baking. Some of their favorite reads include Radio Silence, Wild Beauty, and I Wish You All The Best.
1. Just from reading the blurb and looking at the cover what were your thoughts or expectations from this book? Did your expectations hold?
ENNE: I didn’t really read the blurb before picking up this book? I just looked at the cover and added it to my tbr and all I really knew about it was “bi fat Korean-American k-pop star who falls for her competition,” which already had me excited! From the cover, though, I was expecting this to be a really fun and light-hearted contemporary romance book, which it definitely was in some parts. But it also tackled a lot of serious issues, which I feel like provided a nice balance to the light-hearted parts of the story. I would honestly say my expectations held because as soon as I saw the cover, I was expecting to fall in love with this book, and that’s exactly what happened.
CHARVI: I just love this cover so much! It’s bold, gorgeous and oh my god pastel! And I did not miss the pride flag on Skye’s shirt either. Before diving in I expected a bold and body positive story focusing on the singing and dancing competition. I knew I would like it, I just did, but I didn’t know just how much I would fall in love with this book.
2. Who was your favourite character in the book and which character do you wish to read more about?
ENNE: As cliche as this sounds, my favorite character was probably Skye. It’s very rare that the main character is my favorite character in a book, but Skye just goes through so much over the course of this story and I absolutely loved seeing her go through all that development. And also she’s just such a well-crafted character at the beginning of the story that she instantly feels like she could be your best friend, which I absolutely loved. I would have loved to see more of Lana and Tiffany because they were so interesting and I think there is a lot to be explored with their characters!
CHARVI: I definitely agree with Enne! Skye was just so well-written and I could really relate to her story. Her voice was perfect for this story and she’s honestly one of my favourite characters ever. I wish we had gotten more on Tiffany. I especially want to know about her because she was a bit cold and wary of Skye in the beginning but we never really get to know what made her more warm towards Skye later on.
3. Without giving any spoilers, tell us about your favourite parts or scenes in the book!
ENNE: This one is hard because there are genuinely so many scenes that I loved in this book? But the stand-outs for me have to be the scene at the spa and also the final performance.
CHARVI: Oof yes, there were so many incredible scenes! But honestly the part in the beginning when Skye auditions and gives her speech just really stuck with me. Her whole audition in fact was like a brave love letter to fat girls and I melted cause I’m only human.
4. What do you think of the LGBTQ+ representation in the book? Did you relate to any of the queer characters or their journey?
ENNE: While I didn’t necessarily relate to the queer characters’ journeys, I did really love the queer rep in this book. I really loved that a lot of the supporting cast, in addition to the main character, were queer as well. I also think it’s important to point out that this was queer Asian rep, which we don’t see as often, so I think this will definitely resonate with a lot of readers. I will say though, one thing that I really loved about the queer rep in this story is how casual it felt. The story isn’t centered around the characters’ queerness and instead their queerness is just a part of their identity that they’re secure in. Also I really appreciated that both the main character and the love interest are bi and that we get to see two bi people in a m/f relationship!
CHARVI: Omg yes, seeing two bi people in and m/f relationship, especially the main characters is so rare! I just really related to Skye and literally every way she felt about her sexuality. In one of the earlier scenes Skye grins like an idiot and keeps staring at Lana and Tiffany when she finds out they’re together because it’s the first time she’s see queer Asians and I might have been as creepy as Skye when that first happened to me. It’s just that feeling of pride and happiness when you first see queer couples from your own culture which is orthodox and homophobic – I felt that Lyla Lee wrote that beautifully.
Another thing that I found out to be very accurate was how Skye wished she could date girls but she knew her family would never be okay with that and she was sort of glad that she was attracted to boys too. Wow, did the author just take those feelings out of my heart and write them down? I’ve never seen that in a book and god it’s so accurate, I literally cried when I read that.
5. What are your thoughts on Sky’s journey with her weight and others’ acceptance of it? Did her character arc go the way you had imagined it to?
ENNE: While I’m definitely not the best person to talk about Skye’s arc when it comes to her weight, I did really appreciate how Skye is really secure in that part of her identity. There isn’t any internalized fatphobia to be found in this book and most of the fatphobia that she faces does come from the industry. And this should be taken with many many grains of salt, but I did really appreciate how this book tackled the fatphobia in the k-pop/music industry. While I didn’t really have any expectations for the way this particular part of Skye’s character arc would go, I did really love what Lyla Lee chose to do with it.
CHARVI: Oh my god yes, while I love reading about fat girls coming to terms with their body, it was refreshing to see a main character who was already so loud and confident in her body. What felt the most relatable to me is that no matter how confident Skye was, at some points the self-doubt and her mother’s jabs would prickle at her and she would start questioning her body and her choices. Self-acceptance is difficult to achieve and even when you feel at home and comfortable in your skin it’s only natural that self-doubt will creep in sometimes.
I just love how Lyla Lee paid attention to the details. It was the little things like how Skye would brace herself upon meeting new people who might judge her weight, how she would be told by others that she was unhealthy – all those little things came together and just made this representation wonderful.
6. If you could have Sky, Henry, Tiffany and Lana shoot a music video with any other character/s from any other book who would you choose and why?
ENNE: I think it would be really fun to have them shoot an mv with
Emi, Alfie, and Ryan from The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde. I would be very curious to see that dynamic!
CHARVI: I would love to see Ashish and Sweetie from There’s Something About Sweetie perform with the crew of I’ll Be The One! Ashish is good at dancing and Sweetie is a great singer and probably good at dancing too. Also I just want to see more of my babies 😉
7. Describe the vibe of this book in three words.
ENNE: Ray of sunshine
CHARVI: Bold, soft, inspiring
8. Lastly, if you were to write a short letter to either this book or the author, what would you write?
ENNE: I would thank the author for writing such an amazing book that really reminded me of everything I love in YA. Oh, and I would ask her for recommendations to help me get into k-pop, because after this book, I’m definitely a lot more interested in it.
CHARVI: I would probably just gush about how much I adore this book and Lyla Lee herself and that I can’t wait to read more books by her!!
Thank you Enne for such a wonderful discussion! I hope you all enjoyed the Read the Rainbow discussions for this month 🙂 Before you go, I would like to announce our next book of the month for August. I took a look back and realized that we’ve mainly been choosing contemporary books so I was beyond excited to bring forth a sapphic fantasy book! Our August BOTM is going to be Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust.
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust is a Persian mythology inspired sapphic fantasy featuring a queer main character and a queer side character as well. Their sexualities haven’t been labelled in the book but our mc Soraya showns an interest in men and women.
A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse…
There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.
As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.
Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.
Have you read I’ll Be The One? If yes, what are your thoughts on it? If not, is it on your TBR?
What are some body-positive books that you would recommend?
Are you a fan of K-pop? If yes, I’m sure you’ll love this book!