Bloody Seoul
by Patel, Sonia

Loyal friend and gang member Rocky escalates his bullying of a girl at school and struggles to forget his late mother until the discovery of his father's dishonesty completely unravels his life. By the author of Rani Patel in Full Effect. Simultaneous.

Sonia Patel knows teenagers inside and out. As a child and adolescent psychiatrist, trained at Stanford University and the University of Hawaii, she has spent over fifteen years listening to and understanding the psyche of teenagers from all walks of life. She's also been a teenage girl herself, growing up on Moloka'i as a first generation Gujarati-American.
As a writer, Sonia is passionate about giving voice to the underrepresented youth she treats. Her YA debut featuring a Gujarati-Indian American teen, Rani Patel In Full Effect, was a finalist for the Morris Award and was listed on YALSA's Best Fiction for Young Adults and Kirkus' Reviews Best Teen Books of 2016. Her second YA novel, with a Gujarati-Indian trans boy and a mixed ethnicity girl, Jaya and Rasa: A Love Story, was selected for the 2019 In the Margins Book Award Recommended Fiction Book List. She chose South Korea as the setting for her third YA novel, Bloody Seoul, because of her extensive treatment experience with Korean and Korean American teens on Oahu (and her love for the Korean gangster film genre).
Watch Sonia's video for the Child Mind Institute, where she speaks about her experience with anxiety and depression, and the words of wisdom she would tell her younger self.

Rocky knows that one day he will lead Three Star Pa, his father's infamous Seoul gang. With his "Older Uncle" dead, his "Younger Uncle" banished, and his mom having left him and his father, Rocky has little interest outside of his future with the gang. He spends his days bullying people in and out of school, especially a girl named Ha-na, who takes the brunt of Rocky's malice. As Rocky digs into the truth of what really happened to his mother-and why-he begins to see his father's true, violent nature. He realizes that gang life might not be what he wants and, with the help of Younger Uncle, attempts to fix his mistakes, no matter the cost. The spare writing style makes this a quick, engrossing read. Some of the action-especially that geared toward Ha-na-depicts the brutal nature of bullying and its effects as Rocky struggles with the cruel compulsions of his daily life. A powerful story about family, redemption, and finding out who you really are. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Sixteen-year-old Rocky is the son of one of Seoul's most powerful crime bosses. Not yet old enough to join his father's organization, he runs his own high school gang, terrorizing and bullying the kids at school, until he begins to see the truth of who his father really is. Rocky initially longs to join his father in the Three Star Pa gang's glamorous world of power, danger, and luxury, but when he starts to recognize his father's moral bankruptcy, he begins to question all his assumptions. As his eyes open to his father's alcoholism and dark moods, Rocky unearths memories of his loving mother, who disappeared 10 years earlier. He discovers ugly truths about his parents' relationship and his mother's disappearance and starts digging deeper. Patel's (Jaya and Rasa, 2017, etc.) staccato first-person prose, liberally interspersed with flashback scenes and gratuitous similes, creates an emotional distance for readers. Rocky's personal transformation from brutal bully to lovesick teen may also feel a bit too pat to be entirely realistic, exemplified by his 18 0-degree change of heart toward the Indian-Korean girl he had been tormenting at school. Rocky's friendships with his gang members, who turn out to be the steadying foundation for his new life, are the strongest element of his journey. Readers who are drawn to the darker side of Korean pop culture will enjoy this archetypal, yet solid, redemption story. (Fiction. 13-18) Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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