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A Step from Heaven

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3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  4,281 ratings  ·  475 reviews
2001 National Book Award Nominee

When she is five, Young Ju Park and her family move from Korea to California. During the flight, they climb so far into the sky she concludes they are on their way to Heaven, that Heaven must be in America. Heaven is also where her grandfather is. When she learns the distinction, she is so disappointed she wants to go home to her grandmother
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Audio Cassette, 4 pages
Published January 22nd 2002 by Listening Library (first published March 26th 1997)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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karen
this book was very (view spoiler) i didn't think i was going to like it because it started out in the voice of (view spoiler)which was too (view spoiler) for me, but it thankfully changed as the female child-character grows up to show the slow acclimitization and americanization of a korean family and the struggles and triumphs they undergo, while still holding on to their roots. it is actually a very graceful and delica ...more
Tatiana
Here continues my quest to read all Printz winner books. This one wasn't as impressive as I expected it to be, but 4 stars nonetheless. I'll explain.

A Step from Heaven is story of a Korean family who come to the States to better their lives but fail at it because they bring with them their own personal troubles (mostly in a form of an abusive good-for-nothing father) and their traditional and foreign ideas of pride, honor, and submission.

A Step from Heaven is a gem of a book. In terms of litera
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Caris
In my mind, Young Ju is Kahn Jr. from King of the Hill. This book was the dark, untold story of the Souphanousinphone (I'm not a fan of the show and I had to look that up, but it is their surname) household. Now, you'll have to completely disregard the fact that the Souphanousinphones are Laotian and the Parks are Korean. I was able to, so I expect the same from you.

So, imagine my surprise when Kahn Sr. started smacking the shit out of his wife and kids! I'll never be able to look at him the sam
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Thomas
At four years old, Young Ju does not understand that Mi Gook means America, not heaven. When her parents tell her will move to the magical Mi Gook with them, she assumes that they are going to a special, sacred place. She does not understand the problems sure to arise: struggling to learn a new language, financial problems her family face, and her father's escalating anger. As Young Ju takes time to transition into a life at America, she develops an unexpected, unique voice - one that possesses ...more
John Egbert
Apr 04, 2011 John Egbert rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody, honestly.
Don't be fooled. This book is not about immigrants -- it's about a girl who has to deal with an abusive father after coincidentally immigrating. The main character knows English awesome. Issues of immigration are hardly brought up, and when they are they're poorly tied into the abusive father. Many matters I would have loved to see more of are never addressed, and instead shoved aside for stupid things that I don't care about. Americans are made out to be the norm -- kind and quirky saviors. But ...more
Duffy Pratt
This is a beautiful book. The prose is simple and graceful. At times it's poetic, at times powerful, and at other times touching. The story is simple, true, and feels inevitable. The characters are believable, as are the situations. For what it is, the book is a little gem, and brilliant on its own terms.

I have a few quibbles about the book. The structure is deliberately episodic, and this means that decisions taken in one chapter don't often lead to obvious consequences in later chapters. Inste
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Cate
4Q 2P MJ

A Step From Heaven is about a Korean girl who moves to America with her parents at a young age. As a child of immigrants, Young Ju feels torn between loyalty toward her family and culture and the American way of life. Her parents work long hours in unpleasant jobs and struggle to instill traditional Korean culture into their children. The writing style is very poetic and the narrator’s descriptions are very emotional.

The book is similar to others that I read, such as American Born Chine
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Amy
This is the story of a Korean immigrant family who are looking for the American dream. They come to America when Young is five and believe it will solve all of their problems. They quickly discover that all of their personal problems and most of their everyday life problems have come with them. Young, eventually, advocates for her mother against her abusive, alcoholic father who leaves and the family begins to heal.

This book will appeal to teens who have an interest in poetry because it is writt
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Ben Peltier
Not only does An Na’s A Step from Heaven tell an excellent story, but the manner in which she tells this story and the issues brought up within it make it a fantastic book.

The story describes the childhood of Young Ju, a South Korean girl who moves to America very early in her life. Young Ju’s growth is not only shown through her experiences in the story, but it is also shown in the writing style. As the story begins, the sentences are short and choppy. They are what one might expect from a fo
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Cory
This could have been four stars. It had the potential to be a really great book. But unfortunately it just isn't there. If it were longer it could have the chance to flesh out something other than the abuse. Any book dealing with abuse seems to revolve around it.

This book is about a young Korean girl, Young Ju, who immigrates to America with her family. While the summary says that they have difficulty learning English, that is only brought to light a few times. Young Ju learns it easily, as doe
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Christina G
I loved this story about a Korean family moving to the US. At first, I was skeptical about it's YA label because a) the story starts when the main character, Young Ju, is 4 years old and b) it uses a very poetic language with lots of unexplained Korean words in the first few chapters, which I imagine could be a tough sell to some teens. But as the story goes on, Young Ju gets older (the last chapter taking place right before she leaves for college), and it doesn't take THAT long to get acclimate ...more
Hannah
This was an interesting glimpse into the life of a Korean girl who immigrates to the US with her family at a young age, and revolves mainly around her family adjusting to their new life and dealing with one another. Her story is told through a series of vignettes, with a lot of very creative metaphors and similes that give the book a very original and, in the beginning, sweet child-like point of view. I liked how the last vignette connected back to the first, somewhat redeeming--or at least show ...more
Casey Strauss
Young Ju is four years old when she and her parents move from Korea to America. Before the move, she hears her parents frequently talking about ‘Mi Gook’, and how life will be better there. Misunderstanding, Young believes that her family is moving to heaven as they fly through the clouds on the plane headed to the United States. Once her family has arrived, she is told that it is ‘a step from heaven’ and that in this country she can be anything she wants to be. As her family settles into their ...more
♥ Sarah
I was under the impression that this book was about the Korean American experience. Yet, what I read was flowery prose about a girl who misspells Korean words, and mostly only focuses on her alcoholic fathers' abuse.

Firstly, Young-Ju's younger brother calls her UHN-NEE. This is not only inaccurate, but it's ABSOLUTELY WRONG. When a younger male addresses an older female sibling, he is supposed to address her as NOO-NA. It's SO weird that this author, who is supposedly Korean - does not know suc
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Ani Phelps
This book started out a little slow but had me in tears at the end.

It is about a girl who moved to America from Korea when she was four. Being a child of immigrants and an immigrant herself, her parents have strict rules and the transition for her is far from easy.

She started to feel like something was changing in her family. After her grandmother died, her father started drinking and smoking and only went to work sometimes. One night, when she felt something was not right, she stayed up and pee
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Sandy Yang
Title: A Step From Heaven
Author: An Na

I really liked how this book is easy on the eyes and the tone is soothing. The author seems like a calm person, but yet engages the reader throughout the book.
It's about a young girl who moved from a place in Korea, Mi Gook, into America, starting life all over. Her father and mother were doing fine, and she soon received a brother. She was learning english and found herself a best friend. As she knew that having a best friend did not mean you had to tell
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Emily Wong
The main character is a korean girl who moves to america with her brother, Mom, and Dad and doesn't know a single word of english. Throughout the book, she really learns new things about her family and about america. But her father is a very strict man, and everyone in her family do what he says or else he gets mad and hits them. Later on in the book, it gets exciting because she sees her dad hitting her mom, causing her face to turn a deep purple and ooze with blood. Then she starts to panic an ...more
Christina Sandberg
Moving into a new culture while keeping the mindset and many of the traditions of the old culture can be like trying to fit together pieces from two different puzzles. This is what Young Ju learns as she makes the transition from her homeland of Korea to the United States of America. An Na tells a story of change, familial struggles, and hope using the voice of Korean immigrant Young Ju.
When Young Ju learns that she is moving to America she believes that she is going to heaven. Soon, however, sh
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Sarah Stewart
Sarah Stewart
Multicultural literature
Young Ju’s life is changed when her parents decide to move to America, or Mi Gook as they say in Korea, in hopes of a better life. Young Ju must leave her grandmother, her Halmoni, behind though. In America, Young Ju becomes and older sister to her brother Joon. She describes a struggle in being a girl and being the oldest sibling. Also weaved throughout the book is the abuse she and her family must endure from her father. The book, ranging from age three to
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Mrs. Trimble
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Julie
This is a book about a Korean girl in America and her family. It starts out with memories from Korea which end up having strong significance at the end of the story. The protagonist is the daughter of an alcoholic and abusive father. The book is very well written and believable. It is sad but also shows the strength of the characters. The mother encourages her daughter to dream because she says in America women can be anything. There are a lot of family dynamics present: frustration, embarrassme ...more
Bayla
Beautifully written, this story of a Korean family acculturating to America explores issues of fitting in, of love and strength, of expectations of men vs. women, and of abuse (non-graphically). Young Ju is a very likable character, despite her flaws, and though I found it a little hard going at first because of the mixing in of some Korean words, the beauty of the language soon drew me in, as did the symbolism - this book reads like poetry, sometimes. For example, describing her American uncle ...more
RLL52014_KellyMcGushin Mcgushin
After hearing about this story from a coworker I decided to finally read it. WOW! What an engaging story that really hit home for me! I have had similar discussions with my students and their parents about moving to Chicago from Mexico as well as students who unfortunately come from abusive households. In this story a young Korean girl moves to America “Heaven” from Korea. When she gets to the United States she is forced to live with extended family in a bad neighborhood and she quickly realizes ...more
Gabriela
The 4-year old Young Ju and her family immigrated from Korea to the United Sates looking for a better life and better education. She struggles with the fact of learning a new language, adapting to a new place and her family started to have financial problems. Her brother Joon Ho is born and he has more choices and freedom because of his gender. Young Ju jealous she lies to her teacher saying that her brother died. She received a lot of gifts and flowers for that reason, but its never said what h ...more
Sunday
A friend texted me - she'd just read this. She called it "haunting." I downloaded on my Kindle and read right away - could have read the whole thing in one sitting. Definitely disturbing. I felt like I was observing from the outside. For example, I knew what Young Ju, the main character was thinking as she watched her father beat her mother, but I never had any insight into the father's or mother's thinking - and really, Young Ju didn't either because that was the nature of her relationship with ...more
Holly
This book is a compelling immigrant story. It would be a good discussion book for my students who are mostly immigrants or children of immigrants. The concept of "becoming too American" and trying to balance two cultures while growing up and going to school, I think, many of my students can relate to.
Jordan
Young Ju moves from Korea when she is four years old with her mom and dad to America. When they first move she thinks she is going to heaven only to be disappointed with what she finds instead. The story goes through her life growing up in America all the way up to when she graduates from high school. Young Ju has many problems with her family as they try to adjust to their new life. Things get worse as her father begins to drink and stop working.
I don't find books that skip from memory to memor
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Diana
This book is amazingly real and haunting but so beautiful at the same time. The emotion is so raw and so consistent, I couldn't put the book down for one second. A beautiful read for anyone who enjoys stories about families from other cultures who move to America searching for the American Dream.
junia
WOW.
Was NOT expecting to like this book so much.

AS far as YA literature goes, I know this might be a tough sell for reluctant readers. However, it's short and if it's *required* reading, I think this could be very positive.

Loved the narrative though.. how it grows and just the beauty of the prose and the easy incorporation of the Korean language.
It made sense that An Na was inspired by cisneros's vignettes.

The whole experience made my heart ache, not because I've personally experienced everythin
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Cassi aka Snow White Haggard
A Step From Heaven is a lovely little audiobook I stumbled upon in my library. This book was nearly perfect and though I wanted it to be longer the slice of immigrant life it presented was just enough to leave me longing for more. Sometimes it's better for books to leave you loving their characters and wanting more than to over-tell a story.

Young Ju is only four when her family moves from a fishing village in Korea to the United States. Since she is so young she doesn't understand when her fami
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An Na was born in Korea and grew up in San Diego, California. A former middle school English and history teacher, she is currently at work on her third novel. She lives in Vermont.

(from Web site)
More about An Na...
The Fold Wait for Me No Such Thing as the Real World: Stories About Growing Up and Getting a Life The Middle Place

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“Your life can be different, Young Ju. Study and be strong. In America, women have choices.” 9 likes
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