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Almost American Girl

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  5,838 ratings  ·  928 reviews
A teen graphic novel memoir about a Korean-born, non-English-speaking girl who is abruptly transplanted from Seoul to Huntsville, Alabama, and struggles with extreme culture shock and isolation, until she discovers her passion for comic arts.

For as long as she can remember, it’s been Robin and her mom against the world. Growing up in the 1990s as the only child of a single
Kindle Edition, 228 pages
Published January 28th 2020 by Balzer + Bray
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nitya Yes! It's a memoir to be exact, set mainly during the author's teenhood :)…moreYes! It's a memoir to be exact, set mainly during the author's teenhood :)(less)
Jill You can borrow it from your library for free!
You can borrow it from your library for free!

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Average rating 4.19  · 
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 ·  5,838 ratings  ·  928 reviews

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This graphic novel was more important to me than I expected. Robin Ha has done such a brilliant job documenting her experience of moving from South Korea to Alabama. Even without understanding her experiences as identifying as Asian, I knew that her racial, ethnic, and cultural identity was going to be an issue from the time that I read the description on the inside flap. Ha delves deep into the racial injustice, language barriers, and gender roles that she faces trying to assimilate to a cultur ...more
Feb 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Erin
Shelves: memoir, graphic_novel
Being uprooted from your home and thrust into a new country and culture is a difficult task, especially on young kids. Almost American Girl is a graphic memoir of Robin Ha, who left Korea in the mid-90s with her mother to Alabama. New to the United States and not yet able to speak the language, 14 year old Chuna Ha (she adopts the name Robin to help fit in) struggles to adapt and feels herself left on the sidelines due to her inability to communicate and her anxieties. This is a really moving an ...more
Nenia ✨️ I yeet my books back and forth ✨️ Campbell

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This is such an amazing book! ALMOST AMERICAN GIRL is about Robin Ha (Chuna) and her life growing up in the United States as an immigrant in the 90s. I thought her life was so interesting because it was so unconventional. Her mother was a single mom in Korea, and apparently that is even more stigmatized in Korea than it is here-- people always assumed the worst and Robin quickly learned to hide that her father wasn't around. Her mother s
A pretty decent YA memoir mostly about immigrant experience. It is compared to American Born Chinese and Hey, Kiddo, but Almost American Girl doesn't quite have the depth and creativity of those works. This memoir has a more expected and predictable story arc. However, the parts about Robin's childhood in South Korea and her relationship with her mom do shine.

As an immigrant myself, I am always bothered by how the issue of actually obtaining of the US citizenship is presented as something very
Dave Schaafsma
Oct 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this because I knew my daugher cried as she read this, then put it in my hands, insisting I read it. I thought it was a good but sad coming of age immigration story, and told my daughter I thought it was pretty miserable, overall, but she insisted on highlighting the hopeful aspects of it. Chuna's father left them when she was less than a year old. Her mother spends all of her money to help her daughter develop a better life, including travel, none of which Chuna truly appreciates ar the ...more
April (Aprilius Maximus)
"I didn't exactly fit in in Korea or America. I had become Korean American. And that was okay with me."

representation: Korean (own voices).

[trigger warnings are listed at the bottom of this review and may contain spoilers]


Wow, I absolutely loved this. I couldn't put it down! I feel like if you've ever felt lost or alone, this book will definitely resonate with you! The art style wasn't my favourite though, but that's totally a personal preference!

trigger warnings: being a child of separa
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-reads

Fascinating! I loved reading this graphic novel memoir. Robin's mother was the most interesting person - she works so hard and is so firm in making the best possible life for herself and her daughter. I also liked reading about the societal norms in South Korea and learning about them. Almost American Girl really reminded me of Hey, Kiddo, which I read a year or two ago and also loved. Raw, honest, emotional - I should read more books like this. 4.5/5 stars.
Jul 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll admit that my experience with Korean culture has been superficial (watching dramas, eating food and listening to some kpop). So I picked up Ha's book, in hopes of learning more and fixing my biases.

Being a 2nd gen kid myself, I don't know what it's like to leave the only home you've ever known - not even willingly - and move to a new country where you have to learn a different language and cultural norms that don't make sense (like moving out at 18 years old). Ha's account is heartbreaking
Elizabeth A
Feb 11, 2020 rated it liked it
The author was raised in Seoul, Korea and is suddenly transplanted to Huntsville, Alabama when she's about 14 years old. This graphic memoir explores the author's relationship with her mother, the move, and all the usual themes you'd expect in an immigrant memoir. This is targeted at a younger audience, and as an adult reader I wanted a deeper dive into the themes explored. I was more interested in her mother's story, and would absolutely read a book about that. The art is colorful and cute, and ...more
Layla (Between the Lines)
Thank you to HCC Frenzy for sending me an ARC of Almost American Girl.

I rarely find myself relating to anything these days but this memoir really struck a chord in me. Robin paints a beautiful story, her story, of what it's like to live in a place that doesn't feel like home, and how wonderful it is to finally feel at home.

This ARC did not have fully coloured pages but the artwork was still very nice. I'm looking forward to picking up a finished copy soon.
3.5/5 – did i really cry two times while reading this graphic novel? yes ;--;
Melanie  Brinkman
Why is it so easy to feel out of place in the places we are supposed to call home?

In 1990s Korea, being raised by a single mother means Robin's family doesn't fit the conventional mold. But as long as Robin and her mother have each other, that's okay. So when her mother takes them on a vacation to Alabama, she thinks nothing of it - at least she doesn't until her mother reveals her impending marriage and a permanent relocation.

Now, Robin's forced to deal with a new school, new step family, and
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful, beautifully drawn memoir. Robin is the daughter of a single mother who struggled against South Korea's conservative society to create a happy life for their small family. The summer after 8th grade, Robin travels with her mother to Alabama on what she believes will be a two week trip at most. Shockingly, Robin's mother tells her that they will be moving permanently to America and that she is marrying a man Robin has never met. Robin is devastated- she didn't even get to say ...more
Richie Partington
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Richie’s Picks: ALMOST AMERICAN GIRL: AN ILLUSTRATED MEMOIR by Robin Ha, Harper/Balzer + Bray, January 2020, 240p., ISBN: 978-0-06-268510-0

“Their father’s hell did slowly go by”
-- Graham Nash (1970)

Or, in this case, her mother’s hell.

From the Acknowledgements page:

“So you can only imagine how thrilled Mom was when I finally told her I had been working on this memoir for over a year and found a publisher for it. After realizing there was no turning back on this project, Mom insisted that I at lea
Sep 11, 2020 rated it liked it
I’m not going to spend time writing an elaborate review, because it’s a graphic novel and I was able to read it within a couple sittings. I found this to be a really well written story, but ultimately felt like it was geared to younger YA readers, since she’s in middle school for the majority of the book. Don’t get me wrong - it’s wonderful to have books for 13-14 year olds, who are less represented in YA. It just wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. I also felt that the pacing was quite odd. Robin spe ...more
Rod Brown
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was drawn in by the story of a 14-year-old South Korean girl suddenly finding herself an immigrant living in Huntsville, Alabama, struggling with English, racism, and bullies. But by the end I was fascinated by the portrait of her mother, a strong-willed and fiercely independent woman who resented the sexism of Korean culture and decided better opportunities for her and her daughter might be found elsewhere.
This was a powerful memoir that was a catharsis for the author and also meant to give her mom a way to heal from all the many difficult decisions she had to make in order to create a better life for her daughter and for herself. This is at least the second book I've read where the author immigrated from Asia and landed in Alabama and the experiences were not easy. Thankfully, the author did eventually find some kind people, including a wonderful English teacher and a best friend that stuck with ...more
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graphic-novels, korea
This graphic novel memoir tells the story of young Korean woman who has to move to Alabama with her mother. As can be expected, she experiences extreme culture shock. It offers some pointed criticism of both American and Korean culture that are worth reading. One thing that I really liked was that it talked about how comics and fantasy literature can be both a coping mechanism and a way to connect with people. That's a message that can be appreciated even by people who have never moved to anothe ...more
Leonard Kim
May 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I consider myself a progressive, but I've also felt distressed by some of the directions #ownvoices and diversity/inclusiveness has taken the children's literature community. Reading this, it struck me that some of the other Korean students at Robin's school in McLean (and yes, there are tons of Koreans in McLean - I have relatives there myself) seemed much more likely to publish children's literature, perhaps under #ownvoices, than Robin herself, because privilege exists in and within all group ...more
Samidha; समिधा
This was amazing. I read Kim, Ji-Young, Born 1982 earlier this year and I was shocked by how similar the society is in India and Korea when it comes to respecting elders, patriarchal values, and strict cultural codes. In a similar way, I felt as if I could relate so much with Robin Ha. Apart from learning so much about Korean culture (like there is no “r” sound in Korean and all the tasty dishes that were mentioned), I could also relate to this comic as part of being an immigrant in a foreign co ...more
Amanda Van Parys
Great story and so touching about a teenage Korean girl moving unexpectedly from S Korea to the USA. I really enjoyed it!
Like Chuna, this book just got more and more engaging. Loved Robin's mom, complexly frustrating, sympathetic and admirable. ...more
Jan 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I love graphic memoirs! I have a much better time reading nonfiction when they are in the form of comics. I really enjoyed reading about Robin's life and I admire her mom so much.
What a fantastic graphic memoir, and I cannot wait to revisit this in full color as the sample pages for that were excellent (it'll really enhance the already solid art!).

Growing up in Korea, Robin knew being raised by a single mother and not knowing her father made her family one that bucked Korean cultural norms. She'd had friends but always felt a bit like an outsider for not fitting in to those standards. So when Robin's mother moves them to Alabama and married a man she'd met, Robin finds h
Nicole aka FromReading2Dreaming
***4.5 Stars***

Probably from your feed being flooded by my reviews for graphic novels, you can probably tell that I like them a lot. So here's one more...

This one was really good. It details how a girl named Robin gets forced to move to the US by her mother from South Korea, without any knowledge of how to speak English or how the culture works. It gave me a different perspective to how people who immigrate to the US feel. I honestly really liked it.
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Soooo good! Such a great graphic novel on the Asian immigrant experience.
Really great depiction of culture shock.

Ha tells the story of how she and her mother moved to the United States. Loved the depictions of living in Korea, being the child of a single parent (in Korea, particularly), stepsiblings, language barriers, grief, comics/drawing love, bullying...

Approachable, engaging, relatable. This is great!
I'd consider booktalking it (it could work for either middle or high school), but I'm not sure it needs the extra buzz.

It's interesting to me that Ha also publishe
tomisin ✨
Jan 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
Almost American Girl is a wonderful graphic novel and memoir about Robin Ha, a South Korean-born girl who leaves for vacation to Huntsville, Alabama one summer with her mother, only to find out once they’re in Alabama that it isn’t just a vacation… but a permanent move.

As a teenager growing up in the 90s/early 2000s, moving to the deep south was not easy for Robin. This story recounts her experience with culture shock, racism, a language barrier, grief and so much more.

I really enjoyed reading
May 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I appreciated how honest the author was not only about the difficulty of her experience immigrating to Alabama at fourteen, but also about the conservative aspects of Korean culture that judged her family for being nontraditional (Robin was raised by a single mother), as well as its tendency towards gender inequality and emphasis on beauty standards.

She's also forthright about her Korean-American step-family's brusque treatment of them and her own steadfast mother's stoic parenting style; as th
Great story about how it feels to immigrate to the US while in middle school and not knowing English! I wanted to jump inside the book and sit next to Robin in the cafeteria! These are my favorite kinds of graphic novels.

Popsugar 2020 Challenge - A book with a character with a vision impairment or enhancement

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Mock Printz 2022: February Selection: Almost American Girl by Robin Ha 12 127 Oct 01, 2020 01:36AM  

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Born in Seoul, Korea, Robin Ha grew up reading and drawing comics. At fourteen she moved to the United States. After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in illustration, she moved to New York City and started a career in the fashion industry. Her work has been published in independent comics anthologies including Secret Identities and The Strumpet, as well as in the pages ...more

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