Good Enough by Paula Yoo. (Grades 7+)
Patti Yoon. Straight-A student. Gifted violinist. Perpetual parent pleaser. All she's ever wanted was to get into HarvardYalePrinceton. Nothing less than a 2300 on her SATs is acceptable (2400 is a perfect score... a fact I can't get used to, incidentally). Patti goes to school, practices her violin, does homework, and hangs out with her Korean church youth group.
But from the moment Patti sets eyes on the dreamy, musical Ben at the All-State Orchestra audition, things begin to change. And Patti begins to realize that "her" dream of attending an ivy league school was actually her parents' dream. She starts figuring out that "successful" is not necessarily the same as "happy" and that she'd better think about what she wants for her future.
Funny! I was bummed out on Sunday night for various reasons and I knew that I needed something light and humorous to read. I was right on the money when I picked up Good Enough. Patti's a great character. I liked her right away. She's a total geek, but she's witty and passionate and kind. Unfortunately, other kids at her school have trouble seeing the good in her when she's, say, in gym losing a field hockey game because she has no coordination.
I had read a post about this title over at The YA YA YAs and when I saw it on our new books cart, I picked it up to thumb through it. Here's the passage that made me laugh out loud at work and check it out right away:
"My Mom's Korean Spam Recipe #1 - Spam Bi Bim Bap
1 can of Spam
1 jar of kimchee
Daikon radish-style kimchi
6. Pour on all the kochu jang sauce you want, mix it up, and eat with a side of kimchi. (Note: I'm assuming you have a local Korean grocery store somewhere in your town where you can buy kimchi, daikon radish, and kochu jang sauce. If you don't, well, the only way to make kimchi is to ferment a bunch of cabbage underground for a few years. Good luck with that.)..." (pp 70-71)
I was hooked. Narrator Patti Yoon sprinkles Spam recipes and top ten lists throughout the book, to the great enjoyment of the reader. I was rooting for her the whole way and being really annoying to my coworker at lunch because I kept looking up and saying things like "Something important is about to happen!!!" and "The boy did not do what he was supposed to do! Ah, well, he still has xx pages to redeem himself..." Obviously everyone needs to read this book so that when I say things like that, they understand what I'm talking about.
The book's about a high school senior. And there's some stuff that older high school kids will probably identify more with (taking SATs, AP classes, college aps, etc.), but there's nothing in here that would be inappropriate for a middle schooler to read. It reminded me of some of Meg Cabot's novels (maybe along the line of Teen Idol or All-American Girl).
Don't miss Paula Yoo's guest post on The YA YA YAs, an interview over at Teen Book Review, and Little Willow's review.