almost american girl by robin ha

Name: Angelica

Grade: 11th

Title: Almost American Girl

Author: Robin Ha

Published in: 2020

Pages: 228

Rating: 4.5 stars

“Almost American Girl,” a graphic novel memoir written and illustrated by Robin Ha, tells the story of a Korean-born girl who is abruptly transplanted from Seoul to Huntsville, Alabama. Because of her lack of English skills, she struggles with extreme culture shock and isolation. She is suddenly and completely cut off from her friends from home and lost access to her favorite comics. She doesn’t fit in with her new stepfamily, who aided her mother in her journey to America, and fails to make new friends. It’s not until she shares her love for comics with others that she finally feels accepted into her new community.

I enjoyed the careful details that Ha placed both in her drawings and character development. Through drawings and a few words, Ha crafted dynamic people with unique personalities. We see her mom’s struggles to build a career as a single mother in South Korea, where such a thing was talked about and laughed about behind backs. Yet, we also can emphasize Robin’s sorrow and anger at her mom’s lack of communication and overbearingness.

I would recommend this book to readers of all ages. It is safe for children to read as it does not include profanity but also includes topics such as microaggressions, sexism, and other subtle societal norms that are engaging for older readers. These themes are not told to the reader but are shown through examples and stories. For example, a white boy makes fun of Ha’s food and instructs her to joke about herself too in English. “Almost American Girl” is an incredibly fast read, and the plot is very straightforward to understand.

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