Author: Cho, John
On the first night of rioting in the wake of the Rodney King verdict, Jordan's father leaves to check on the family store, spurring twelve-year-old Jordan and his friends to embark on a dangerous journey through South Central and Koreatown to come to his aid, encountering the racism within their community as they go.
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Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.30
Points: 6.0 Quiz: 515997
Kirkus Reviews (03/15/22)
School Library Journal (00/04/22)
The Hornbook (00/07/22)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 04/01/2022 Gr 5 Up—It is 1992, and the Rodney King verdict has just been returned. Riots explode across L.A. Told from Jordan's middle school Korean American perspective, the book delves into issues like the challenges faced by immigrant families, systemic racism, and a flawed justice system. Jordan has been in some trouble at school, and he and his father are not speaking. His father leaves his gun behind when he goes out to board up their family's store, so Jordan decides to take it to him for protection. He and his friend Mike head out into Koreatown with different agendas; Mike wants to retrieve something from his family's restaurant, and Jordan is determined to keep his father safe. Jordan and Mike are often in trouble, but, luckily, the gun stays in its case in his backpack. Some strengths of this novel are Jordan's close family and his relationship with his older sister Sarah. She may be successful in school, but she has her secrets, too. Despite disagreements, it is clear that the family cares for one another. This is a good middle grade historical fiction. Its main character is relatable, and the fast pace keeps readers engaged. Some young readers may not understand the trials of trying to find a pay phone, but as Cho's author's note points out, many of the conflicts in 1992 are still relevant today. VERDICT A strong purchase for libraries with readers who enjoy recent historical books or have an interest in racial justice.—Claire Covington - Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 06/01/2022 Jordan is the titular troublemaker—or is he? The child of Korean immigrants, he's just been suspended from school for cheating as he tries to dig himself out of an academic hole. He knows he's a disappointment to his hardworking parents, who own a store in South Central Los Angeles. Then he sees a way to reconnect with his father: riots in the wake of the 1992 Rodney King decision threaten the store where his Dad has gone alone to board windows, and Jordan thinks if he brings dad the gun he knows is hidden in their home closet, he'll show his loyalty. This decision leads to a cross-city adventure filled with danger, fortuitous encounters with Angelinos of all ethnicities, secrets revealed, and an awareness of how the gun is a heavy burden. Readers drawn to action will revel in close calls and high emotions generated by Jordan's conflicts with family and friends, but they will also end satisfied that the smoky violence is mostly avoided as Jordan learns why his father has decided against carrying a gun. - Copyright 2022 Booklist.