Monday, May 9, 2011

Gateway Nominee #2: Good Enough by Paula Yoo

"After a few moments, all I can hear is the voice coming from my violin. It makes me truly happy.
But it's not the only thing that makes me happy. Maurice was right--there are so many other things in life,
so many other possibilities to make me happy. And I shouldn't have to settle for just one."

On the outside, it would seem that 17-year-old Patti Yoo has the brains, talent, and drive that any high school senior looking to get admitted into "HARVARDYALEPRINCETON" would kill to have. But Patti, although very bright and talented, is, in a way, the product of a very strict, hardworking, unforgiving household. Her parents expect her to be the top of her class, to snag the Violin Concertmaster (lead) in the Youth Orchestra year after year, and to be admitted into the top Ivy League schools in the country. But as Patti enters her senior year of high school, it becomes clear to her that she has been living her life for her parents and she doesn't even know what she hopes for her own future to hold. Can she remain good enough to live up to her parents' expectations while still pursuing her own happiness?

Paul Yoo has written the timeless story of the internal struggle between what the heart wants and what is in fact good for the heart. Patti is a teenage girl that real teen girls can relate to: she is honest, confused, talented, and lost, and she has to make a few major mistakes on her journey to discovering who she is and what she is destined to do with the gifts she has been given.

I enjoyed reading this novel, especially because I caught a glimpse of what Korean-American culture looks like; the struggles of assimilation and acceptance that Paula and her family (and the other Korean students) deal with is eye-opening and at times distressing. One scene in particular when a classmate's mother insults Paula's father's English in the store had me getting a little misty. The journey Paula is sent on is not a story that hasn't been written before, but Paula's cultural background and unique personality give the story a fresh perspective. All in all I found it to be a fun read :)

4Q: The writing style is fun and fresh, with Paula's inner monologue, various Korean recipes, and lists such as "How to make your Korean parents very unhappy, Part 1." I found myself laughing with Paula and truly feeling her pain and embarrassment as she struggled to find her way.
3P: This book would be a fun read for junior high students, but I don't see high schoolers getting into the plot. It moves a little slowly and the content is not as mature as I think high schoolers seek in a novel.

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