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Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir

By: Robin Ha

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 mother in Seoul, Korea wasn’t always easy, but it has bonded them fiercely together. So when a vacation to visit friends in Huntsville, Alabama unexpectedly becomes a permanent relocation—following her mother’s announcement that she’s getting married—Robin is devastated. Overnight, her life changes. She is dropped into a new school where she doesn’t understand the language and struggles to keep up. She is completely cut off from her friends at home and has no access to her beloved comics. At home, she doesn’t fit in with her new stepfamily. And worst of all, she is furious with the one person she is closest to—her mother.

Then one day Robin’s mother enrolls her in a local comic drawing class, which opens the window to a future Robin could never have imagined.

Almost American Girl is a deeply moving memoir about immigration, belonging, and how art can save a life, from bestselling comic artist Robin Ha.

Author’s note. Glossary. Full-color illustrations.

ISBN: 9780062685100

JLG Release: May 2020


Sensitive Areas: Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism, Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: Reference or Discussion, Language: Mild Language
Topics: Immigration , Race , Mothers and daughters , Single-parent families , Family , Friendship , Korean Americans , Memoirs

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

School Library Journal*, Publishers Weekly*, Booklist*, Kirkus Reviews*

School Library Journal

Ha’s touching graphic memoir depicts her lonely first year as a teenage immigrant to America. When her single mother brought her from Seoul, South Korea, to Huntsville, AL, in 1995, 14-year-old Chuna (the author’s Korean name) thought it was just another vacation, but she quickly discovered that her mother intended to marry a fellow Korean immi Ha’s touching graphic memoir depicts her lonely first year as a teenage immigrant to America. When her single mother brought her from Seoul, South Korea, to Huntsville, AL, in 1995, 14-year-old Chuna (the author’s Korean name) thought it was just another vacation, but she quickly discovered that her mother intended to marry a fellow Korean immigrant, Mr. Kim. Chuna and her mother moved in with Mr. Kim’s extended family, and Chuna joined her new stepcousins at school. Stranded in a sea of indecipherable English and racist bullies, she realized that the glossy America she saw on television was far from reality. But Chuna began to take a clear-eyed look at her home country, particularly the prejudice she faced because her mother was unmarried, and came to understand her mother’s choice to leave Seoul. Eventually, Chuna joined a comic book course and bonded with her classmates. Illustrations include dynamic sound effects and convey overwrought emotion. The sepia-toned flashbacks to life in Seoul at first seem nostalgic, but as the teen reflects on how conservative Korean culture was, the monochromatic scenes feel far more bleak. Ha’s all too infrequent fantasy sequences are gloriously colorful, especially the scene when Chuna takes solace in her favorite fantasy universe. A poignant and unvarnished depiction of immigration—both the heartache and the rewards.

Book Details

ISBN

9780062685100

First Release

May 2020

Genre

Nonfic

Dewey Classification

B

Trim Size

9" x 6"

Page Count

240

Accelerated Reader

N/A

Scholastic Reading Counts

N/A

Lexile

N/A

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Balzer + Bray

Potentially Sensitive Areas

Discrimination: Racial Insensitivity/Racism, Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: Reference or Discussion, Language: Mild Language

Topics

Immigration, Race, Mothers and daughters, Single-parent families, Family, Friendship, Korean Americans, Memoirs,

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