Lindsey's Reviews > A Step from Heaven

A Step from Heaven by An Na
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's review
Feb 01, 08

bookshelves: j-fiction, clean, teen, ladies, not-white-characters-stories
Recommended for: middle school/high school girls
Read in January, 2008

Young Ju moves from Korea to the U.S. as a young child because her parents believe they can build a better life there. She is too young to understand what is happening, but she interprets from her parents’ excitement and her mother’s description of getting there by flying to mean that Mi Gook (the United States) is heaven, and she is sorely disappointed by the strange world she finds when they arrive. Young is forced to grow up quickly when she starts to feel the pressure to succeed in school and must help take care of her younger brother while her parents work two jobs. Everyone has trouble adjusting to the new culture and the disappointment in finding the U.S. is not all they hoped for. Young finds herself envying her best friend Amanda and becoming increasingly embarrassed by her own home life. The situation becomes increasingly difficult when Young Ju’s father begins drinking, skipping work, and becoming increasingly violent. The family struggles to stay together.

The tone, language and understanding of the narrator matures as the character does, and the reader sees Young change from a carefree child with innocence and imagination to a responsible young lady with serious burdens to bear. The beginning of the book, when Young Ju is just a pre-kindergarten child, the understanding of the situation from the eyes of a child can be delightful and amusing. Yet it is difficult at first to discern family relationships since only the Korean is used. Still, the short chapter format makes for a quick read and the plot moves quickly. This is a great story about the struggle of immigrants without being too preachy
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