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A Step From Heaven, by An Na

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An, Na. A Step From Heaven. Boyds Mill Press, Inc., 2009. Ebook.

Annotation: Young Ju tries to adjust to American life after her family moves from Korea, but her family itself may fall apart with the stress of a new culture.

Booktalk: Family means a lot of things to a lot of people. What if your family moved to a new country, with a completely different culture and language? Young Ju’s family moved to America, believing life there would be almost like heaven. But with a difficult new language, and a wildly different culture and value system, things don’t feel very heavenly.

Her parents want to remember where they come from. They make Young Ju speak Korean at home, but then struggle with English due to their own lack of practice, and force her to translate for them. They wanted her to be a real Mi Gook (American) girl, but she’s punished for not remembering how to be a Korean girl.

Throughout the separate stories in the book, we watch as Young Ju’s father is crushed by the difficult and sometimes humiliating life of immigrant families; and also see how Young Ju herself, and her mother and brother, rise to the challenges of valuing two cultures, themselves, and their family.

Awards:

2002 MICHAEL L. PRINTZ AWARD

2001 National Book Award Finalist

2002 Children’s Book Award in YA Fiction – International Reading Association

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