Swimming Through the Dawn

Young Adult - General
305 Pages
Reviewed on 08/03/2020
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Author Biography

Upon graduating from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, R. P. Rioux spent two decades working in the Hollywood entertainment industry, rubbing shoulders with struggling dreamers and successful achievers alike. A year spent abroad circumnavigating the globe ignited an admiration of the world's varied cultures, and taught that regardless of where we live, our commonalities far outweigh our differences.

Now married and living in Cascadia, Swimming Through the Dawn marks R. P. Rioux's literary debut. The author is a lifelong admirer of pop music girl groups and believes the form has been perfected in Korea. It's also become clear that nothing has the power to unite, inspire, and heal quite like music does.

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

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.

Risah Salazar

Heather Moon dreams of becoming a K-pop idol. She's been training for years now under 37-G Entertainment, and there's no doubt that she's one of the best, if not the ultimate best. Most of her co-trainees would say that she has a sure spot in the group the agency is launching soon. As the date of the debut approaches, 37-G "encourages" their female idols to "spend time" with the investors so they can "thank" them personally. After the incident with an executive named Mr. Lee, Heather loses everything she's worked hard for and goes to Los Angeles to fulfill her dad's wish of studying business instead of pursuing music. But can she really give up her life-long dream? Exposing the ugly truth behind South Korea's glamorous idol culture, 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.

Gobi Jane

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. Heather Moon is a Korean-American idol trainee with dreams of getting to the top. Making her debut in K-pop music, she is quite sure of success when the legendary Chul, the main singer of the first-generation boy band, J.em, seems to take a liking to her. But things go downhill pretty fast without her knowing how it all happens. Soon, she is packing and returning home to America to a father who never trusts her entirely. Attending St. Ignatius University and majoring in business isn’t enough to sway her from her dreams and passion. She starts her own band consisting of seven misfits. This time around can they succeed without depending on some popular artist?

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. When we meet her in the story, she tells Chul that luck runs out when we push it and it runs out for her. But she doesn’t surrender. 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.