A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The book deals with navigating family obligation, being true to oneself, and surviving in a culture where Western ideals of beauty are thrust upon everyone, whether they can meet those standards or not. Because the book also deals with race and culture, there are some instances of racism, including a man calling a young Asian girl an "Oriental bitch."
Mild swearing including "bitch," "ass," and rude hand gestures. Racial terms including "Oriental" -- to describe an Asian girl, slant-eyed gook -- and "FOB" or "fresh off the boat," a phrase used for recent immigrants.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this book deals with people learning to accept themselves and their perceived flaws. Because the focus is on a Korean family and race plays a factor in one character's journey, racial undertones are present including a humiliating display by a student. A college student reveals she's a lesbian.
Is It Any Good?
An Na has written a beautiful, poignant coming-of-age story that is as real as the teen girl next door. Na brings readers into a world that is seldom highlighted: the family life of Korean Americans. Her focus is on Joyce, a lovable, troubled heroine who is told by her own aunt that her eyes are a flaw that need to be fixed. Granted, her aunt is called "Michael" (Jackson) by the rest of her family because of all the plastic surgery she's had. But it still adds an extra level of angst to Joyce's self-image issues, and a difficult decision to make when her aunt offers to pay for the surgery.
What Na does especially well is highlight how everyone in Joyce's family, with her aunt's help, tries to make changes: family members try to look taller, more glamorous, find mates, etc. Na's focus on family and accepting the flaws of loved ones is reflected in Joyce's journey of self-acceptance and love. The positive family portrayal and body image message is sure to appeal to parents and young readers alike.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate