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by An Na


School Library Journal:

Gr 8 Up –The pack of lies about her academic achievement that Mina has told to satisfy her mother’s high expectations (she has her heart set on her daughter going to Harvard) is unraveling as her senior year approaches. Jonathon Kim, a Stanford-bound teen and the son of her mother’s best friend, has helped with the deception by forging Mina’s report cards and backing up her many fictions. He asks too much of her, though, while Ysrael, the attractive new employee in the family cleaning business, encourages her to follow her own dreams–and him–to San Francisco. The tension in this Korean -American family is as uncomfortable as the heat and Santa Ana winds of the southern California setting. Mina’s mother’s bitterness over her lot in life and her neglect of Mina’s hearing-impaired younger sister, Suna, have left the teen responsible. The story is told in two voices: first-person past tense for Mina and a distancing third-person present for Suna, just entering middle school and just beginning to find her own voice. The book is carefully crafted and beautifully written; even the punctuation emphasizes the fact that this is the younger generation’s story. The adults speak without quotation marks. Na plays with her readers, suggesting in the prologue that the resolution of this story will come with a car crash, but instead makes Mina’s decision about her future a logical outcome of her emotional growth. Accessible and wonderfully discussable, this story of family secrets and family love is a worthy successor to Na’s A Step from Heaven (Front St, 2001).–Kathleen Isaacs, Towson University, MD –Kathleen Isaacs (Reviewed July 1, 2006) (School Library Journal, vol 52, issue 7, p109)


  • Texas Tayshas Reading Lists: 2008
  • YALSA Best Books for Young Adults: 2007


10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade, 8th Grade, 9th Grade, Family, Identity, Teen