Almost American Girl
by Ha, Robin

Moving abruptly from Seoul to Alabama, a Korean teen struggles in a hostile blended home and a new school where she does not speak English before forging unexpected connections in a local comic drawing class. 15,000 first printing. Simultaneous and eBook. Illustrations.

*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. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Transitioning from life in Korea to America, a young woman struggles with change and figuring out where she fits. After her mother's decision to marry a man in Alabama, 14-year-old Chuna, who thought she was just going on another mother-daughter trip, grapples with culture shock, bullying, and integrating into a new family. Her mother is still her hero, and she recognizes the sacrifices she has made in order for them to survive. It's rough going though, especially when the rest of the Kims, her new stepfamily, are not very supportive. She can't help but compare Korea to the U.S., the lively streets of Seoul and her many friends to her isolation in 1990s Huntsville. Bullying, though for different reasons—in Korea, for coming from a single-parent home and in Alabama, for being Asian—is always prevalent in her life. (Many of the people she interacts with at school are white.) It isn't until her mother reminds her of her love of comics and drawing that Chuna, now going by Robin, begins to thrive. Employing soft and subdued coloring for the majority of the work, Ha (Cook Korean!, 2016, etc.) uses sepia tones for recollections of her family's history in Korea. This heartfelt memoir from an author who shares her honest, personal experiences excels at showing how Ha navigated Asian American identity and the bonds between mother and daughter. An insightful, moving coming-of-age tale. (glossary) (Graphic memoir. 12-adult) Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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