Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir
Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir

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Annotation: A Korean teen struggles to adjust after moving from Seoul to Alabama, before attending a local comic drawing class.
Catalog Number: #208668
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Graphic Novel Graphic Novel
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: c2020
Pages: 227 p.
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-06-268510-4 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-7291-8
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-06-268510-0 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-7291-4
Dewey: 921
Dimensions: 23 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Publishers Weekly
In her YA debut, adult author Ha (Cook Korean!: A Comic Book with Recipes) creates a graphic novel memoir about a girl-s transition from Korea to America. Tomboyish Chuna, 14, and her single mother have always been each other-s closest relationship. But when her mother decides to remarry, Chuna is uprooted from her comfortable life in South Korea to the completely foreign environs of Huntsville, Ala. Faced with bullying from her classmates and stepfamily, Chuna-s only solace is in drawing comics. It is only when Chuna is once more uprooted to the far more ethnically diverse McLean, Va., that she begins to build relationships and an identity that blends her Korean and American identities. Ha-s vivid recollections impart a clear sense of place, whether they describe the Korea of her mother-s generation or 21st-century Korea, Alabama, and Virginia, depicting each location with distinctive details. The colors are muted, allowing the vibrancy of the storytelling to shine. Touching and subtly humorous, this emotive memoir is as much about the steadfast bond between a mother and daughter as it is about the challenges of being an immigrant in America. Ages 13-up. (Jan.)

School Library Journal Starred Review
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 immigrationboth the heartache and the rewards. Anna Murphy, Berkeley Carroll School, Brooklyn
Reading Level: 6.0
Interest Level: 7-12

A powerful and moving teen graphic novel memoir about immigration, belonging, and how arts can save a life--perfect for fans of American Born Chinese and Hey, Kiddo. This nonfiction graphic novel is an excellent choice for accelerated tween readers in grades 7 to 8, especially during homeschooling. It's a fun way to keep your child entertained and engaged while not in the classroom. For as long as she can remember, it's been Robin and her mom against the world. Growing up as the only child of a single mother in Seoul, Korea, wasn't always easy, but it has bonded them fiercely together. So when a vacation to visit friends in Huntsville, Alabama, unexpectedly becomes a permanent relocation--following her mother's announcement that she's getting married--Robin is devastated. Overnight, her life changes. She is dropped into a new school where she doesn't understand the language and struggles to keep up. She is completely cut off from her friends in Seoul and has no access to her beloved comics. At home, she doesn't fit in with her new stepfamily, and worst of all, she is furious with the one person she is closest to--her mother. Then one day Robin's mother enrolls her in a local comic drawing class, which opens the window to a future Robin could never have imagined.


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