Monday, April 27, 2020

Almost American Girl by Robin Ha - ESSENTIAL

Almost American Girl by Robin Ha, 228 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL Balzer + Bray (Harper Collins), 2020. $23.

Language: PG (13 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (racist bullies)



14yo Chuna has always been a good student, working hard in school to get good grades and make her mother proud. It's what is expected in Korea of a respectful daughter. But when a trip to Alabama turns into a permanent move when her mother marries, Chuna finds her self living with a step-family, learning to speak English in school with no ELL program (it's the late 1990's), and struggling to fit in despite bullies and a language barrier. She is good at art, and drawing comics helps her cope and make friends. 

Robin Ha's illustrated memoir is beautiful. Full color illustrations capture her story, and mirror what many new comers to America may be experiencing. We see her adjustment to strange foods, slang, mean kids, new friends, holidays and teachers, both well meaning and difficult. I loved how she differentiated between speaking Korean and English, and what English sounded like to her before she learned. The cover illustration is haunting - I feel like the teacher she has turned around to look at, for help and understanding. An essential middle school read, but I'm sharing this with my teachers, too. They should also see this perspective. Well done!

Lisa Librarian

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