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by John Son

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-439-43538-2
Publisher: Orchard/Scholastic

Poetic, memoir-style vignettes tell the story of Jin-Han’s life from toddlerhood to early adolescence. When a gusty Chicago wind sweeps away two-year-old Jin-Han’s acorn-shaped hat, the first-person narration—this is an entry in the First Person Fiction series—is a child’s-eye view infused with an older gaze. This voice continues until Jin-Han reaches junior high, when his first crushes and dawning sexual feelings make the narration more solidly integrated—and suddenly funny. His Korean immigrant parents move the family from Chicago to Memphis to Dallas trying to earn a living, and Jin-Han wends his way between kimchi and Tolkien, between the simple spoken Korean that he understands and the fast adult Korean that he doesn’t. The gentle role of hats on the literal level holds a surprising and deep metaphor for the careful reader. This quiet story shows how unembellished observation can be quite moving, from hats lost in the wind to a shocking and powerful event at the end. (author’s note, glossary) (Fiction. YA)