From debut novelist Goo, a school year in the life of an outspoken Korean-American teen.
When the school newspaper accidentally publishes sophomore Holly Kim’s fake essay mocking most of her fellow students, she fears it’s the end of her high school career. Instead, the resulting controversy lands her an ongoing column—an outlet for her strong opinions that she rarely finds at home, where she clashes regularly with her strict mother. Holly’s new writing gig also gives her a reason to interact with classmates outside her usual circle of friends, including Matthew Reynolds, a popular jock. It’s a shame neither her sarcastic first-person narration nor her newspaper columns, which are interspersed throughout the novel, are witty enough to elevate the predictable plot and stock characters; readers are likely to agree with Holly when she compares herself to a character “out of a bad teen movie from the ’90s.” The treatment of Holly’s ambivalence about her Korean upbringing is also disappointing: Holly’s complaints only touch upon the surface of the complex cultural issues in play, and the characterization of her mother relies too much on cheap stereotypes. Look to Paula Yoo’s Good Enough (2008) for a funnier, more nuanced treatment of the same topic.
All-too-familiar, forgettable fluff. (Fiction. 12-18)