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Almost American Girl

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Almost American Girl Book Poster Image
Tender graphic memoir of Korean teen's immigrant experience.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Almost American Girl offers a glimpse of South Korean culture and features a glossary of common words and phrases. The book offers a glimse of what it's like to be an immigrant and the process of assimilation in a new culture. 

Positive Messages

If you stay true to your interests, you'll eventually find people who share them. Immigrants add to the cultural dynamism of the U.S. Mothers and daughters need to communicate honestly and respect each other's talents and passions.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Robin is shocked and saddened when she's forced to leave all her friends behind in Korea. As she makes tentative steps to reach out to people her age in America, she eventually finds solace in her cartooning skills. Throughout her trials, she still treats others with compassion and is able to appreciate her mother's good qualities.

Violence
Sex
Language

A couple of instances of "hell," "bulls--t."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

College-age students drink beer and cocktails in a nightclulb.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Almost American Girl is a graphic memoir of 14-year-old South Korean teen Chuna trying to adapt to a strange new existence in Alabama after her single mother marries. Writer and illustrator Robin Ha recounts her experience as a lonely teen, one who eventually learned to belong by concentrating on her art. College-age characters drink beer and cocktails in a few scenes. Swearing is limited to "hell" and "bulls--t."

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What's the story?

At the start of ALMOST AMERICAN GIRL, 14-year-old Robin Ha has a close relationship with her single mother in South Korea, until they suddenly move to Alabama with no warning. Speaking barely any English, Robin is lonely and miserable as she tries to fit in with a new school and a blended family. One of the few things that give Robin pleasure is comics, especially anime and manga. Will they be enough to make her feel like she truly belongs?

Is it any good?

America is a land of struggling immigrants, and this tenderhearted memoir captures the mixed feelings that often accompany the experience. With humor and compassion for her younger self, cartoonist Robin Ha presents in Almost American Girl the sadness and confusion of being in a strange land among people with different cultural expectations. Robin learns that it's wise to have goals that can be reached step by step, and it's fortunate that she chose cartooning as her passion in life. Her artwork is bright and lively, mostly realistic but with some manga and anime influence. Middle- and high-school readers will identify with young Robin's predicament and enjoy the resolution of the story.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Almost American Girl depicts the immigrant experience. What kinds of struggles do immigrants face when they arrive in a new country? What skills do they bring with them?

  • Robin is taunted by a group of White boys. What can students do if they are bullied at school?

  • Robin is furious that her mother moved to Alabama without telling her. How should parents and teens talk about the big decisions in their lives?

Book details

Themes & Topics

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