A writer shares anecdotes from her youth in Los Angeles County’s Korean American community in this debut memoir.
The child of South Korean immigrants, Koo, along with her siblings, was forced to abide by certain traditional customs when she was growing up. This included respecting elders, like her grandmother, even when their behavior was somewhat bizarre: “Without our permission, my dad’s mom rampaged through our house with a pair of silver shears, grabbing and cutting pieces of our clothing, big blankets, and any available patches of fabric….She took those pieces of old and new fabric to make oddly-patched small pillow covers.” Sometimes this traditional Korean worldview was shocked by the reality of the family’s American surroundings: Koo’s father’s first gas station was on Crenshaw Boulevard in South Central LA, and a few months after he sold it, the building was set on fire during the city’s riots in 1992. But there was no shortage of other Koreans in LA County, and Koo’s childhood was an often hilarious clash between her American-born peers and her parents’ immigrant generation. At the center of it all, there was always a table laden with traditional food: jeon, bibimbap, banchan, bulgogi, and even the Korean adaptation of the American hamburger (or hambegeo, as the author’s mother called it). Koo’s prose is conversational and amusing, managing to make both Korean and American cultures appear simultaneously alien and familiar: “Ken had long bangs that dangled to the sides of his chin. He was a young eleventh grade ‘wangsta,’ a wannabe gangsta, who wore baggy clothes….He often went to noraebangs to drink, smoke, and sing the latest Korean songs with his fellow wangsta friends, and sometimes he got into trouble.” The book is a thoroughly enjoyable coming-of-age tale of a somewhat precocious girl finding her way in a particularly loud and chaotic environment where the old and the new rested side by side and not always comfortably. Additionally, the work captures a specific time and place in the history of LA and the so-called “Third Wave” of immigration to the United States.
A compelling and often funny account of growing up in one of America’s Korean enclaves.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)