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As if growing up in today's world isn't difficult enough, 18-year-old Heather Moon decided to dare the impossible. A few short months ago, the Korean-American K-Pop trainee was on top of the world. Considered a lock to debut with a promising new act, her years of dedication to 37-G Entertainment seemed destined to pay off. Fate can be capricious, however, and in a moment of startling honesty, she loses everything.
With a singing career in shambles, Heather returns to Los Angeles to fulfill her dad's wish of studying business in college. Yet music is her true calling and without it she'll never be whole. Before long, a new adventure beckons. Her plan for music industry redemption begins with Made in Heaven, a do-it-yourself girl group. Cobbled together from a cast of misfits, the seven charismatic members each possess a unique set of talents and limitations. If they're to meet expectations, they'll have to test the bonds of friendship and be molded into greatness.
Freed from the restrictions of agency life, and aided by an ambitious student filmmaker, their initial efforts seem promising. Soon, however, it becomes clear that the world is not ready for their vision. Lacking resources, every modest gain is a struggle. To make matters worse, their American audience has no idea what to make of indie K-Pop. Is it even possible to produce a hit song when the rent is due, relationships are failing, counseling is out of reach, and parents expect a "real job"? Can Made in Heaven realize their dreams before they're derailed once and for all by the pressures of impending adulthood?
Swimming Through the Dawn is the first part of the Made in Heaven series. Filled with moments of genuine humor and emotional resonance, it is appropriate for young adult/new adult readers and anyone who loves the world of film, music, and dance.
R. P. Rioux's Swimming Through the Dawn is a story about dreaming big and believing you can. As the first installment in the Made in Heaven series, this book captures readers' attention early and keeps them hooked until the end. With all the spot-on references, it is evident that Rioux's knowledge about the Korean culture and the entertainment industry runs deep. Anything related to K-pop is usually perceived as shallow but this book begs to differ. It has a classy and intellectual tone, tackles relevant social issues, and breaks stereotypes. Aside from the sassy Asian protagonists, a few more races are present too, making the story diverse. The world-building is great and the imagery is fantastic. Mirroring today's sad reality, this coming-of-age debut novel is angsty, realistic, and relatable. Whether K-pop fans or just music lovers in general, readers will surely enjoy Swimming Through the Dawn.
- Reviewed by Risah Salazar
Swimming Through the Dawn is a work of fiction in the interpersonal drama, contemporary and cross-cultural sub-genres, and was penned by author R. P. Rioux. Written for young adult reading audiences, the work does contain some moderate use of explicit language, reference to sexual situations, and one violent but non-graphic moment. The opening novel to the Made In Heaven series, we focus on the world of rising stars and K-Pop music in this delightful and charming novel. Protagonist Heather Moon sees her dreams fall apart after training for a debut that never comes, so when she returns to California, she sets out with some new friends to revive her dream and do it on her own terms.
Author R. P. Rioux brings a unique and exciting new genre of fiction to life in this enthralling story of chasing your dreams and staying true to who you are. Protagonist Heather Moon is an excellent heroine for the piece, vulnerable but tough and very easy to adore and root for. I really enjoyed the descriptive work put into St. Ignatius University and the cultures and people she meets there, and the commitment to all the new characters was great because it fully realizes the other bandmates as much as Heather herself. There were also a few more difficult moments of real, deep drama which I thought were highly effective to the plot. Overall, I would definitely recommend Swimming Through the Dawn for YA fans looking for something unique in the contemporary drama category.
- Reviewed by K.C. Finn
Swimming Through the Dawn is the first entry in the Made in Heaven K-Pop series by R. P. Rioux and a beautiful story for fans of music. This is a story of what it takes to become a legend and Heather is a character that I liked from the very beginning. She follows her passion and there is every sign that this passion will help her. Her wit is strong and piercing and it is interesting to follow her intelligence and determination. The author passes a powerful message through this character: If you can’t fit, create your own path. That path becomes an inspiration for others. The writing is beautiful, with great prose and exciting dialogues. I was pulled in from the opening pages, especially when Heather encounters Chul and has an exciting conversation with him. I saw in her a woman with character, her strong wit and her worldview fascinating. Swimming Through the Dawn showcases the world of K-pop music and explores a culture that young adult readers will adore. Swimming Through the Dawn is a delightful read that feels like a movie; it is fast-paced, well-plotted, and features memorable characters.
- Reviewed by Gobi Jane
Swimming Through the Dawn is chock full of music and movie references. I've assembled a Youtube playlist so you can immerse yourself in the world of the characters. Some entries will no doubt be familiar, but I'm certain you'll find pleasant surprises along the way. Enjoy.
This is a music only version of the above playlist.