David King was twelve years old when he moved from Korea to New Jersey. In loosely-connected tales, we follow David as he adapts to his new country.
You're twelve years old. A month has passed since your Korean Air flight landed at lovely Newark Airport. Your fifteen-year-old sister is miserable. Your mother isn't exactly happy, either. You're seeing your father for the first time in five years, and although he's nice enough, he might be, well - how can you put this delicately? - a loser.
You can't speak English, but that doesn't stop you from working at East Meets West, your father's gift shop in a strip mall, where everything is new.
Welcome to the wonderful world of David Kim.
I was waiting to use our apartments only bathroom, shifting from foot to foot, when the door burst open and my sister walked out, her eyes raw and puffy, followed closely by Mother, arms tautly alert, ready to catch her if she fell, if she melted, if she died.
My sister had chosen this day, my twelfth birthday, to try to kill herself, or at least pretend to kill herself. Looking back on that day now, I can see it was merely a stunt to gain attention, and even then I think I knew she was bluffing, but still, I couldnt ignore the blue dish and the paring knife sitting on top of the toilet seat, its tip pointing toward the bathtub like a compass needle. On the dish, a pile of white pills sat like an offering. I put the dish and the knife on the floor and flipped the seat up. As I peed into the bowl, I stared down at the silver edge of the blade, wondering how close it had come to my sisters wrists.
When I finished, I ...
Don't be surprised that the book ignores the youthful angst of David's school experiences; this novel is aimed at adult readers, although teens may become engrossed in it as well. Instead, the stories revolve around the small world of Peddlers Town and those who work there, ordinary people at an unremarkable shopping mall who became special to me as Woo unfolded their unique struggles.
(Reviewed by Beth Hemke Shapiro).
Full Review (486 words).
100 Years of Korean Immigration
In 2008 there were more than 1.3 million people of Korean ancestry living in the United States, making Koreans the fourth largest group of Asian Americans, after Asian Indians, Chinese and Filipinos. As of 2000, roughly one-third of Korean Americans had been born in the United States, one-third are U.S. citizens born in Korea, and one-third are non-citizens.
The first wave of Korean immigrants came to harvest sugar on the Hawaiian Islands at the turn of the twentieth century, long before Hawaii became the 50th state. These migrants were part of a larger group of Asians who made the trans-...
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