Rummanah Aasi

 For as long as she can remember, it’s been Robin and her mom against the world. Growing up in the 1990s as the only child of a single mother in Seoul, Korea, wasn’t always easy, but it has bonded them fiercely together.

So when a vacation to visit friends in Huntsville, Alabama, unexpectedly becomes a permanent relocation—following her mother’s announcement that she’s getting married—Robin is devastated. Overnight, her life changes. She is dropped into a new school where she doesn’t understand the language and struggles to keep up. She is completely cut off from her friends at home and has no access to her beloved comics. At home, she doesn’t fit in with her new step-family. And worst of all, she is furious with the one person she is closest to—her mother.

Then one day Robin’s mother enrolls her in a local comic drawing class, which opens the window to a future Robin could never have imagined.

 Review: Almost American Girl is a moving graphic memoir about belonging, family, immigration, and the love of art. Chuna's mother brought her to Albama, United States, under the pretense of another mother-daughter temporary trip. She is shocked and hurt to find that her stay in Alabama is actually permanent when her mother marries a man.  Now grappling with culture shock, bullying, and integrating into a new family, Chuna feels adrift. Her mother is still her hero, and she recognizes the sacrifices she has made in order for them to survive. Despite her attempts to join her new stepfamily, it is not easy and they are not very supportive. Chuna is also having a hard time at a predominate white school and is bullied for being Asian. It’s rough going though, especially when the rest of the Kims, her new stepfamily, are not very supportive. Understandably, Chuna feels isolated and out of place. She misses her friends and life in Seoul. It isn’t until her mother reminds her of her love of comics and drawing that Chuna becomes her own person, going by the name of Robin, and begins to thrive.
    The universal theme of desiring to belong and the common immigrant's plight to adjust to their new life isn't unique to this graphic novel, however, I very much appreciated a peek into the Korean culture. I did not know that there is a strong stigma against single-parent homes in Korea, which is the reason Robin is bullied in Korea. I also liked that Robin's mother, though flawed, was not a frequent stereotype of a quiet, submissive wife. Her mother is fiercely independent and did everything she could to help her daughter. The bond between her and Robin is the core for this graphic novel. Readers who enjoy graphic memoirs will find much to enjoy.

 Rating: 4 stars

 Words of Caution: There is some language, and scenes of bullying and racism. Recommended for Grades 7 and up.

 If you like this book try: Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett Krosoczka, The American Dream? by Shing Yin Khor
1 Response
  1. This one sounds really good.

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