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Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  602 ratings  ·  108 reviews
A powerful and timely teen graphic novel memoir—perfect for fans of American Born Chinese and Hey, Kiddo—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
...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published January 28th 2020 by Balzer + Bray
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Chelsea There is really no romance in this book. It focuses more on the personal growth of the main character. Hope you enjoy the book!

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Average rating 4.10  · 
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Tatiana
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
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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.
Elizabeth A
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
Kelly
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
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Richie Partington
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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LauraW
I am gradually finding graphic novels that I enjoy: ones with more content than fighting and magical happenings. This book is technically not a graphical NOVEL, but I am going to put it in my group for such, because that is where I would look to find it again. It is an "illustrated memoir".

I am almost always fascinated with the experience of going from one culture to another, probably because when I was 16, I went off to Germany, trading the American Vietnam War era culture for the German one.
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Ruth Covington
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was a homeschooled girl in a conservative religious family who moved 2000 miles from one place to another when I was 13, so this book, about a Korean girl moving from Korea to Alabama at age 14 with her mother to start life with a new family, hit close to home for me. I related strongly to the isolation, depression, grief, fear, anger, and confusion that Robin felt in leaving behind her old life and friends and trying to understand and fit in with other kids her age, in her difficult ...more
Jennifer
Received advanced reader copy from publisher via Baker & Taylor book supplier.

For so long, it has been just Robin and her mom. Then mom takes Robin on a “vacation” to America. Except it wasn’t a vacation but a move. Robin finds herself uprooted from the familiar and plopped right in the middle of a very-Caucasian Alabama town. Surviving has so many meanings.

Not only was this a terrific memoir about immigration. It is a powerful glimpse into Korean culture and family, a look at trying to
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Deborah Embury
4.5
I really appreciated getting a deeper looking into the experience of Ha; her struggles in adapting to her new home, sadness over losing what was familiar, and her focus on the particular hardships Korean women have had to deal with were especially eye-opening. This memoir made me feel a whole lotta emotions, and I'd love to read more of Ha's work.
Karen Parisot
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Born in Korea to a single mother, Chuna Ha aged fourteen is suddenly wrenched from her happy existence in Seoul. Her mother has decided without any warning to uproot both their lives and start over in America. They land in Huntsville, Alabama where Chuna finds she has a new step family, a new school, and absolutely no friends. She picks a new name for herself, Robin, and struggles to fit in. Her command of the English language is poor, she’s bullied at school, and her step family is not too ...more
Melinda
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The story is so heart-wrenching, and the drawings so vividly bring the pain, discomfort, and then, comfort, to life. Really a powerful graphic memoir.
Steven
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book made me feel things. So good. Thank you Robin Ha.
Cozy Ink
Kind of young for me. I think it would be better marketed as middle grade rather then teen. The art was nice, and I preferred black and white to color. The narrative sometimes felt like she was glossing over stuff, but it was ultimately a fun but slightly unmemorable read.
Raven
Dec 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful graphic novel. A true story about a girl who looses her identity when she leaves Korea and comes to live in America. How she struggles to find where she belongs and the struggles she faces navigating middle school and high school in a new country.

I found the illustrations to be wonderful. Lots of details and the colouring is wonderful.

The story line flowed well and the flashback scenes were great. I just wish there was more. The story felt rushed at times and I would have liked
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Blue Cypress Books
Excellent middle reader dealing with otherness, immigration, and friendship. Found myself rooting for Chuna's (Robin's) mother, who had such strength and resiliency.
Emily
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to HarperCollins & Baker & Taylor's ARC program for the ARC. This was lovely. Will recommend to 7th grade & up. (there is some minor language in a bullying incident)
Whitney
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not usually a memoir person, but I had this recommended to me on Instagram of all places (via a moving ad, kind of like it was a TV show?) and it intrigued me, so I picked it up at my local library.

I really enjoyed this story. Chuna lives in South Korea with her mom, a single-parent in the 1990s. Her mom meets a man in Alabama, and suddenly, Chuna finds herself moving across the globe at 14 without speaking the language or being able to say goodbye to her friends or her old life. In the US,
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Jennifer
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read this during a weekend full of Asian-American graphic memoirs and novels, just after reading They Called Us Enemy by George Takei. Almost American Girl is less overtly political than Takei's graphic memoir and focuses on Ha’s experience of abruptly moving to the U.S. from Korea as a teenager and trying to fit in. I say “less overtly,” because it still depicts the racism Ha encountered upon moving to Alabama, the sexism that her single mother faced, and the limitations of an American ...more
Kinsey
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thanks the B&T for sending me an ARC.

Excellent graphic novel memoir. I am loving the illustrated memoirs that have been published recently, and this one is one of the best. This is the perfect story for teens who feel out of place either in school or at home. Robin thinks she is just vacationing in American and will return to the home and friends she loves in Korea soon. But instead her mom informs her that they're going to stay in Alabama. Robin must try to navigate a new home life, new
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Pam
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chuna is a girl in Korea, loving her single mom. They love to travel, and plan to visit Alabama. Little does Chuna know, but her mom is about to be married to a newly immigrated man from Korea, complete with a daughter and multiple other close, opinionated family members. Chuna now will be going to a school in Alabama, where she does not know English nor the American culture. She is encouraged to pick an American name, and when she cannot decide, she learns Eeny Meeny Miney Mo, and becomes ...more
Jean
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Middle school is an awkward enough period of life, but imagine starting 8th grade not just in a new school but a new country, having to integrate into all of the regular classes because ESL classrooms aren’t available, trying to understand the cultural differences while not even fully understanding the language (Halloween, trick or treating.. what’s that?), not to mention keeping up with schoolwork, trying to make friends and also attempting to find your place in a new family. Those are the ...more
Mariko
Dec 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got an ARC of this for work (hopefully I'm allowed to say that lol) and I really loved it! The strength of the mother daughter relationship resonated a lot for me. I appreciate how the difficulties memoir writing presents for Asian Americans (since I worry about it a lot myself...lol) so the real heartfelt, warts and all nature of this book was especially moving. I also felt it was unique in that it's set mostly in the south during the mid 90s. Great read for any YA audience.
Barry Welsh
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An extremely enjoyable, very moving coming of age and immigration story. Highly recommended
Beth
Note: I read the advance reader copy, with only a few color pages.

A wonderfully illustrated, rich memoir about the details of Ha's childhood, particularly moving to and slowly adjusting to the US. Chuna/Robin depicts her struggles in a relatable yet unique way, from being the child of a single mother in strict, proper Korea to dealing with a new stepfamily and struggling to learn English in Alabama. Differences within Korean-American immigrant and second-generation communities are portrayed. The
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Stefanie
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved Robin Ha’s graphic novel memoir about moving to America from Korea & how art helped her communicate & find her voice in a new country. ...more
Raven Black
Oct 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A lovely memoir of becoming not just Korean and not just American but both and knowing who you are.
Ang
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So good. Really satisfying entry into the graphic memoir genre.
Megan
4.5 Stars
I related to this way more than I thought I would. Great read!
Olivia Boddy
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good illustrated memoir that deals with topics such as racism but also focuses on Korean culture and also how diverse our society is becoming!
Tina Christopher
Robin Ha does an amazing job sharing her story through words and pictures. You are with her every step of the way and you feel every bit of pain, rejection, hope, and happiness as they happen. You experience the challenges and pain as well as the delight of coming from two worlds. I enjoyed her style of illustrations.
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Mock Printz 2021: February Selection: Almost American Girl by Robin Ha 6 45 Feb 10, 2020 04:56PM  

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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