|Finding Junie Kim|
Author: Oh, Ellen
While dealing with racist vandalism in her middle school, Junie learns of her grandparents' experiences as lost children during the Korean War and finds her inner strength.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.70
Points: 11.0 Quiz: 513489
Kirkus Reviews (03/15/21)
School Library Journal (+) (05/01/21)
Booklist (+) (03/15/21)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 03/15/2021 *Starred Review* Twelve-year-old Junie is determined to navigate middle school with grace, even as she is bullied by students who consider her Korean heritage worthy of ridicule and suspicion. She’s not alone, though. Her diverse group of close-knit friends have all been subjected to similar aggressions. After racist graffiti is discovered in the gym, Junie’s crew decides it’s time to speak up about the abuse, but she thinks that will only bring more trouble. When a school project has her interviewing her grandparents, their stories of perseverance and bravery in the face of both a terrible war in Korea and ongoing racism in the U.S. make Junie wonder if she, too, can find her courage and her voice. The text switches between Junie’s first-person narration and her grandparents’ childhood stories told in third person, but they’re beautifully woven into a captivating whole. Oh notes that this work was inspired by her own family’s experiences, and it’s an obvious labor of love, shedding light on both present-day problems and an often-overlooked war, tackling extremely challenging subjects like racism, depression, suicidal ideation, death, and even gruesome war crimes. But there is also fierce familial love, supportive friendship, and an undercurrent of hope that buoys Junie in her worst times and helps her endure and grow. Junie’s difficult journey is certainly one worth taking. - Copyright 2021 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 05/01/2021 Gr 5–8—Twelve-year-old Korean American Junie Kim's first morning of seventh grade turns into a police scene when racist graffiti is discovered in the school gym. Junie has been bullied by a racist white boy who calls her hateful names. Back in 1950, Korean children Doha and Jinjoo endure a brutal civil war. The book moves back and forth between then and now, illustrating the evils and effects of war and racism. In this personal narrative inspired by the author's mother's life, Oh writes about the ravages of war and the depths of Junie's depression with unflinching honesty. She seamlessly provides insight into Korean history and culture for the unintroduced and captures the human condition during wartime through frank portrayals of Junie's modern-day struggles. The portions of the book dealing with the Korean War move more swiftly, but Junie's journey out of depression—through friends, family, therapy, and the discovery of her special talent—still develops poignantly. VERDICT A first purchase for middle school and upper elementary collections, Oh's powerful novel sheds light on the devastating effect racism can have on mental health, and tells a history often overlooked.—Kate Fleming, Hosford M.S., Portland, OR - Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.