Graphic Novel, Memoir 227 p. South Korean-American
Chuna lives in South Korea with her mother. She loves spending time with her friends exploring the city and reading her favorite comics. Then, her mother announces that they are going on vacation to Alabama in America. But the vacation turns into them staying in America. Chuna is lonely, doesn’t get along with her step-family and misses her life in South Korea. She is also discriminated against in school. The only good thing is that she gets to change her name to Robin. Then her mom takes her to a comic book store and signs her up for a class. She makes many new friends and her English improves. This is a well written and very relatable for teens. I think it will be enjoyed in my library!
Graphic Novel 264 p. Awards: YALSA, National Book Award Finalist
Rating: 5 out of 5.
What a wonderful book!! Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, have spent most of their lives in Dadaab, a refugee camp in Kenya. They have seen their father shot and killed, and been separated from their mother when their home was attacked. They do not know if she is even alive. Omar feels responsible for his brother who suffers from frequent seizures and is non-verbal. They are also helped by a woman named Fatima who has lost her children. When an opportunity to attend school occurs, Omar begins attending and loves it.
The novel describes the harsh realities of life in a refugee camp: no jobs, the surrounding desert and dust, the constant waiting in lines, and boredom. Even though the book has much despair in it it also contains hope. Omar and Hassan are eventually chosen for resettlement to America and they eventually do find their mother again.
I don’t usually read graphic novels, but in the last month I have read several including two by Gene Luen Yang. The other was Superman Smashes the Klan which I review in another post. I love the fact that Yang chooses the topic of basketball for his newest book, as he admits he knows very little about the sport when he begins working on it. By the end of the project he has made friends with the coach and many of the players and becomes a big fan of the team, the Oakland school, Bishop O’Dowd Dragons. I also liked the mascot as it was the same as my high school team’s.
While I haven’t come across many graphic novels with sports as the theme, I enjoyed how Yang interspersed fast-paced action with history of the sport. The background story of the coach was also enjoyable. Lou Richie had played for the Dragons in 1988 and had scored on the last play of the game, only to have the ref overturn the basket. As the coach for the Dragons, winning a championship has also proved elusive. I highly recommend this graphic novel not just for those who like this genre but for all sports enthusiasts! And the illustrations were awesome!!