|Almost American girl : an illustrated memoir|
Author: Ha, Robin
A powerful and moving teen memoir in graphic novel format about immigration, belonging, and how arts can save a life.
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 11/01/2019 Gr 7 Up—Ha's touching graphic memoir depicts her lonely first year as a teenage immigrant to America. When her single mother brought her from Seoul, South Korea, to Huntsville, AL, in 1995, 14-year-old Chuna (the author's Korean name) thought it was just another vacation, but she quickly discovered that her mother intended to marry a fellow Korean immigrant, Mr. Kim. Chuna and her mother moved in with Mr. Kim's extended family, and Chuna joined her new stepcousins at school. Stranded in a sea of indecipherable English and racist bullies, she realized that the glossy America she saw on television was far from reality. But Chuna began to take a clear-eyed look at her home country, particularly the prejudice she faced because her mother was unmarried, and came to understand her mother's choice to leave Seoul. Eventually, Chuna joined a comic book course and bonded with her classmates. Illustrations include dynamic sound effects and convey overwrought emotion. The sepia-toned flashbacks to life in Seoul at first seem nostalgic, but as the teen reflects on how conservative Korean culture was, the monochromatic scenes feel far more bleak. Ha's all too infrequent fantasy sequences are gloriously colorful, especially the scene when Chuna takes solace in her favorite fantasy universe. VERDICT A poignant and unvarnished depiction of immigration—both the heartache and the rewards.—Anna Murphy, Berkeley Carroll School, Brooklyn - Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 11/15/2019 *Starred Review* “The End of the World as I Know It”—Ha’s first chapter heading—happened when she was 14. As a student in 1995 in Seoul, Korea, Ha was mostly a typical teenager, enjoying close friendships, studying hard, and obsessed with reading—and drawing—comics. That she lives with just her single working mother occasionally caused clucking gossip and bullying at school, but Ha’s two-person household was exactly right for mother and daughter. While past vacations took the pair to touristy destinations like Hawaii and Singapore, this year, Ha’s mother announces they’re flying to Alabama, where they ultimately land in the Kim family home, where three immigrant generations reside. When Ha’s mother shockingly reveals she’s marrying the recently divorced Mr. Kim, returning to Korea is no longer an option. With unblinking honesty and raw vulnerability, Ha’s debut graphic memoir captures her often excruciating journey toward creating, 24 years later, “a new identity that I now love.” Silenced by lack of English, abused by racist students, even manipulated by a step-cousin, Ha spends her first year in the U.S. experiencing an arduous ordeal. Presented in full-color splendor, her energetic style mirrors the constant motion of her adolescent self, navigating the peripatetic turbulence toward adulthood from Seoul to Alabama to Virginia and back to Seoul—just for a visit—before finally arriving home. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.