On a Rooftop in Beijing
Love endures on a rooftop in Beijing, by Maggie Paredes
North Korean swimmer, Jae Sung, was successful in winning a swimming scholarship to attend the prestigious Kim Il Sung University. His life and future depended on doing well in the sport, and he was determined to make his parents proud. When North Korea was permitted to compete in the 2008 Olympic Games, held in Beijing, Jae was selected for the swim team. Seventeen-year-old Sloane, from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, had spent much of her life in the swimming pool and had trained to compete on the world stage. When she was selected to represent the USA swim team at the Beijing Olympics, Sloane was excited to compete, but also eager to travel and experience life in East Asia.
During the Olympic opening ceremony, Jae and Sloane’s eyes meet across the stadium and they are immediately drawn to one another. During training the next day, they meet again, and Jae sends Sloane a secret note to meet him on the roof at midnight. Over the course of the games, Jae and Sloane pass secret notes and meet in secret every night on the rooftops of Beijing. The teens fall deeply in love but must keep their relationship hidden from their coaches and fellow athletes. Under the autocratic rule of the Supreme Leader, Jae is not permitted to speak to anyone from another nation. Disobedience could lead to incarceration or even death. Furthermore, if he doesn’t take a medal back home to North Korea, he would be severely punished. Sloane knows that she must stay focused on the competition, and that her secret liaison could risk the chance of a gold medal. Can Jae and Sloane keep their relationship a secret? And will they risk their chance of an Olympic medal, for love?
On a Rooftop in Beijing by author Maggie Paredes is a captivating romantic fiction novel, about two young athletes who risk their lives and sporting careers in pursuit of love and happiness. Written in the first-person perspective, the book alternates from the viewpoints of the two main characters, Jae and Sloane. This is an enjoyable and interesting novel, which gives a unique and fascinating insight into the history, lifestyle and culture of North Korea. I liked the setting of the book in the Olympic village and the secret rendezvous on the rooftops, and I enjoyed the blossoming relationship between the teenagers. The book beautifully captures the intense, overwhelming emotion of teen love, the terrifying fear of being caught, and the fear of failing at such an important competition. The book will appeal to young adult readers who enjoy romantic fiction.
Star rating: 5 Stars
Summary: A captivating romantic fiction novel, about two young athletes who risk everything for love.