Parents' Guide to


By Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Funny, harrowing, heartfelt tale of kid in '92 L.A. riots.

Book cover of Troublemaker by John Cho

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John Cho's tale of a 12-year-old Korean kid in Los Angeles as the 1992 riots unfold offers a kid's-eye view of the racism, violence, and plain old meanness underlying the upheaval. Troublemaker Jordan, abetted by his BFF Mike, makes a lot of breathtakingly poor choices as he decides to mend his fractured relationship with his dad by bringing him a gun (unloaded) to protect the family store from rioters, but older and wiser characters intervene at the right moment, sharing their experiences and wisdom. Friendship and family finally carry the day, but there are some bumps and rifts along the way -- most of which end up making Jordan and Mike kinder, more empathetic kids as they learn what life's like for other people.

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