"Your life can be different, Young Ju."
Young Ju immigrates with her family from a small village in Korea to the United States when she is just four years old. After being told that American is “like Heaven,” she and her family quickly learn that their new home does not quite live up to its expectations. Young Ju struggles to learn English at school and fit into American society even though her parents except her to be a good Korean girl. Her parents work multiple jobs to support the family and she is constantly reminded that her younger brother is favored because he is the first-born male of the family. To make matters worse, Young Ju’s father is also an alcoholic and abusive towards the family and eventually; she has to make the decision to call for help when he threatens to kill her mother. The novel documents Young Ju’s journey of growing up in the United States until she leaves for college when she is eighteen.
I really enjoyed reading this book. Each chapter focused on a different part of Young Ju’s life and read like a short story, but together they made a very compelling novel. I loved how the author changed the sentence structure and dialog, as Young Ju was growing up and beginning to understand English. I was also very interested in learning about the barriers that the characters went through after moving to America and how they each dealt with them in different ways. The novel had a very powerful message of hope even though their new life was not easy for Young Ju and her family.