Good Enough by Paula Yoo. HarperCollins, 2008
Age 13 and older
Patti Yoon is a first-generation Korean American high school senior who has worked hard all her life to make her parents happy. Their happiness is directly tied to Patti’s academic success. It’s not enough that she’s destined to be her class valedictorian and is an accomplished violinist, she must also get at least 2300 on her SATs and be accepted by Harvard, Princeton, and Yale (HYP for short). The wheels start to come off of Patti’s success cart when she first lays eyes on Cute Trumpet Guy (a/k/a Ben Wheeler) during tryouts for All-State Orchestra. Patti’s been concertmaster for the past three years, and she’s a shoe-in again this year, but Cute Trumpet Guy distracts her so much during her tryout that she flubs a few notes and ends up as Assistant Concertmaster. Throughout the school year, Ben becomes a major distraction, and Patti struggles with wanting to please her parents and wanting to be master of her own fate. For one thing, she thinks she might actually want to go to Julliard to study music rather than HYP. With Ben’s help and encouragement, she secretly applies. There have been a number of good young adult novels over the past several years about first-generation Asian American teens facing this sort of conflict. What lifts this one above the rest is Yoo’s tongue-in-cheek humor about parents’ expectations. Chapters frequently begin with lists that have titles such as “How to Make Your Korean Parents happy, Part 4” and Yoo manages to share the humor in Patti’s situation without belittling Patti’s parents’ strong aspirations for their daughter’s future. ©2008 Cooperative Children’s Book Center
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