Patrice Sartor's Reviews > A Step from Heaven

A Step from Heaven by An Na
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Aug 23, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: young-adult, realistic-fiction, parent-child, racial-relations

GENRE: Fiction: Realistic fiction, problem solving.

SUBJECT/THEMES: Immigration, Korean-Americans, family monetary troubles, alcoholism, family difficulties, cultural differences.

SUMMARY: Young Ju was four years old when her parents decided to move to America (a place deemed “a step from heaven”) in the hopes of providing a better future for their daughter. Young Ju’s aunt, Gomo, already lives in America and has helped the family find a place to rent. The Park family moves in with the greatest hopes, including one day moving out of their rental place into their own home. Young Ju has little difficulty adjusting to American schools, though she does not want to have a lot of friends. She has one best friend, Amanda, whom she has known since she started school in the United States. Life changes a bit when her brother Joon is born, though nothing affects the family as greatly as Young Ju’s father’s drinking, unhappiness and physical abuse of her mother.

EVALUATION: Young Ju is a smart, independent character who is ashamed of her family’s poverty. She is afraid of her father, and sometimes jealous of her brother. I became attached to her early in the story, and it was fulfilling to watch her blossom into a young lady over the course of the book. Young Ju has a great deal of emotional stress to handle, and I did not doubt that she would triumph. I was pleasantly surprised by the book’s ending, though it felt a bit abrupt after all the family had undergone in the preceding chapters.

WHY I WOULD INCLUDE IT: One of my greatest joys of reading is discovering good writing, and my other greatest joy is becoming attached to well crafted characters. This book offers both, and more. Teen readers will get a glimpse into what life is like for some children of immigrants. Teenagers that are in this situation themselves may be glad to have a character they can relate to. In addition, this book has won thirty awards, thus far the largest number out of any of the other books in this database.

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