TAE'S SONATA by Haemi Balgassi


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Eighth-grader Taeyoung Kim feels torn between her Korean heritage and her new American culture. When she is assigned to do a report on South Korea with one of the most popular boys in school, her feelings begin to surface: She's embarrassed about being ""different,"" her modest upbringing, and her parents. The storyline and themes--feeling out of place and struggling with the popular crowd--are well known; Marie G. Lee (If It Hadn't Been for Yoon Jun, 1993, etc.) has deftly limned aspects of the Korean experience along these lines. Here, the resolution is predictable. The title and main theme are linked to Tae's piano-playing, which comes across as an afterthought instead of an integral part of the story. While readers get a sense of who Tae is, they may become frustrated with her passivity; the few instances in which she reflects on her life in Korea are adequate, but lack power. Readers will empathize more with Tae's parents, whose tender characterizations are the best in the book. Tae grows and learns, and gets the cute boy, which will satisfy those seeking light fare and no surprises.

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 1997
Page count: 122pp
Publisher: Clarion