Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Step from Heaven

An, Na. A Step from Heaven. step from heaven

Asheville, North Carolina: Front Street, 2001. Print.

Annotation: A young Korean girl and her family find it difficult to learn English and adjust to life in America.

Booktalk: How does your own culture define who you are and what you become? Four-year-old Young Ju leaves her small fishing village in Korea for a new life in "Mi Gook" – America. This place makes her parents smile and all Young Ju knows about Mi Gook is that people say it is heaven to live there. Her family takes the bus that flies in the sky so that must mean they are going to heaven. After arriving in American, her family laughs at this misunderstanding and tells Young Ju it is almost as good as heaven. Let us say it is a step from heaven. As time goes on, Young Ju feels further and further from heaven. Her family has very little money and rents a small, dingy apartment. At her new school, it is very hard to get her tongue around the new language. Her experiences are told through a series of vignettes portraying the world she is caught between - the old and new countries and her parent’s generation. Young Ju family is barely held together by the power of love and torn by the violence of despair. Young Ju's family struggles to stay afloat and you will see through her own voice the family's battles with economic hardship and physical violence as her desperate father, Apa, descends into alcoholism.

“We thought nothing would happen the way we wanted. Not ever. Not the time Apa, with a distant edge in his eye, took us to see the new houses being built on a nearby hill and said, we shall see. But then we never did see, although Joon and I asked every day and even packed our clothes in brown paper grocery bags in case we had to move fast.” (Page 72)

Young Ju attempts to find her place in her new world somewhere between Korean and being American. Does she find her new identity?

Honors & Awards:

  • 2001 National Book Award Finalist
  • 2002 Children's Book Award in YA Fiction – International Reading Association
  • 2003 - 2004 Gateway Readers Award Nominee, Missouri Association of School Libraries
  • 2003 - 2004 William Allen White Children's Book Award master list
  • 2002 Notable Books for a Global Society – International Reading Association
  • 2002 Notable Children's Book – American Library Association
  • 2002 Best Book for Young Adults – American Library Association
  • 2002 Children's Literature Choice List
  • 2002 Notable Books for the Language Arts – NCTE
  • 2001 Editor's Choice – Booklist
  • 2001 New York Times Book Review Notable Book
  • 2001 Best Books – School Library Journal
  • 2001 Kiriyama Prize Notable Book Shortlist
  • 2001 Best Children's Books – Publishers Weekly
  • 2001 Best Book –
  • 2001 Book LInks Lasting Connections
  • 2001 Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children
  • 2001 Top 10 Youth First Novels – Booklist

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