S10_Helena's Reviews > A Step from Heaven

A Step from Heaven by An Na
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's review
Jul 28, 10

bookshelves: asian-american, poverty
Read from July 18 to 28, 2010

Genre: fiction
Format: non-print audio
Age level: upper middle school and high school


This book is told by a Korean girl named Young Ju. The story follows her life from age (4) in Korea until she is a young adult and living in California. Her parents emigrated to California when she was (5) years old. The narrative follows the lives of Young Ju, her little brother, and her parents. It provides a glimpse into the struggle of assimilating into another culture while trying to maintain your own culture.

The family faces many trials after entering the United States. Some of these trials are new, but some they brought with them from Korea. The irony is that Young Ju thinks she is going to heaven when they leave for America, but in actuality they are worse off than when they were in Korea. However, her uncle states that they are a “step from heaven.” The novel can be categorized as a coming-of-age story for Young Ju; however, there are many themes present in this piece of literature. Some of those themes include poverty, alcoholism, abuse, assimilation, etc.

The audio version of this text was a bit difficult to comprehend in the beginning because the narrator was supposed to be a young child and also have limited English. It was hard to decipher at many times throughout the novel if the characters were supposed to be speaking Korean or English. The language and thoughts of a recently emigrated family was very advanced at times for people who were just beginning to learn the language. The episodes of both physical and mental abuse by the father towards the mother and children increase the grade level which this book would be appropriate.
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