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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What 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.
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What's the story?
Joyce has a cute crush that doesn't know she exists; a perfect, beautiful older sister; and a best friend who feels her pain. Her plan to get a makeover and win her crush's heart takes a new turn when her rich aunt offers her plastic surgery. Joyce has to decide whether or not to change what's so fundamentally her to become the someone she dreams about being. Will she go through with it?
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.