Friday, March 6, 2009

A Step From Heaven

Author: An Na (156p)

Publisher: Front Street

Summary: (inside flap) "I am looking for Harabugi all over Gomo's house. There are so many rooms. All of the floors are covered with a warm white blanket that is soft on my feet. And the rooms do not have rice paper doors but a big piece of wood like the stores in the village. Everyone in heaven must be very rich to have so many blankets and wooden doors inside the house."

In this first novel, a young girl describes her family's bittersweet experience in the United States after their emigration from Korea. While going up and up into the sky on the flight from Korea to California, four-year-old Young Ju and her parents and little brother struggle in their new world weighed down by the difficulty of learning English, their insular family life, and the traditions of the country they left behind. An Na's striking language authentically reflects the process of acculturation as Young Ju grows from a child to an adult.

Review: The story line drew me in from the start. I could really identify with the story since I have sort of gone through "the process of acculturation" and some of the other things that come with immigration. The story's layout was great and you could really understand the main character. Young Ju's story wasn't a lovely one, in Korea or in the U.S, but she tried her hardest to break past the prejudices of the people around her and those of her very own family. Some of my objections to the book are the first two pages and the way dialogue was written. The very first two pages were hard to get into because they were written from a three-year-old's point of view I believe. The sentences were broken up and it was almost like a poem. It wasn't poorly written. On the contrary, the realisticness of the memory is well portrayed. For a while, until Young Ju is old enough to understand things I suppose, there are no quotes to surround the dialogue. But sometimes, in the Young Ju's older stage, some dialogue was still unsurrounded by quotes. I understand that this has pretty much a negligible bearing on the story, but it kind of confused me. Another excellent story on family life and dealing with change.

Rating: 5/5

You might also like:
1. Roots and Wings by Many Ly
2. Ties That Bind, Ties That Break by Lensey Namioka

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