Unidentified Suburban Object

Posted on Jun 4, 2016 in BR Library

9780545782265By Mike Jung
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Pages: 272
Lexile: 830L
Age Range: 8 – 12 Years

The next person who compares Chloe Cho with famous violinist Abigail Yang is going to HEAR it. Chloe has just about had it with people not knowing the difference between someone who’s Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. She’s had it with people thinking that everything she does well — getting good grades, winning first chair in the orchestra, et CETera — are because she’s ASIAN.

Of course, her own parents don’t want to have anything to DO with their Korean background. Any time Chloe asks them a question they change the subject. They seem perfectly happy to be the only Asian family in town. It’s only when Chloe’s with her best friend, Shelly, that she doesn’t feel like a total alien.

Then a new teacher comes to town: Ms. Lee. She’s Korean American, and for the first time Chloe has a person to talk to who seems to understand completely. For Ms. Lee’s class, Chloe finally gets to explore her family history. But what she unearths is light-years away from what she expected.

“Chloe Cho, the only student of Asian descent in her school, wants to learn about her Korean heritage, but her parents deflect her inquiries, saying that their past is too painful to revisit. Then Chloe’s seventh-grade social studies teacher, Mrs. Lee, assigns a Model United Nations project, naming Chloe to represent South Korea. Facing the prospect of a bad grade for Chloe if they don’t cough up some background, the Chos come clean, dropping a bombshell that sends Chloe into a spiral of confusion and anger, and the plot veering in a very different direction. Jung (Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities) excels at showing how racial insensitivity can isolate even a student who is doing everything she can to fit in. Chloe’s life teems with microaggressions: a hanbok she wears is called “exotic,” strangers assume she is Chinese or Japanese, and a well-meaning orchestra teacher calls her “my Abigail Yang,” a famous Korean violin virtuoso. It’s easy to imagine Chloe’s story starting conversations about how seemingly innocent remarks can make a minority student feel like an alien in the only home she’s ever known.”
Ages 8–12. Agent: Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency. (Apr.)
Publishers Weekly