Tae's Sonata

Haemi Balgassi, Author
Haemi Balgassi, Author Clarion Books $15 (128p) ISBN 978-0-395-84314-7
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The plot of this contemporary romance is fairly run-of-the-mill: Smart, not-so-popular Taeyoung Kim falls for one of the ""cool"" eighth-grade boys (""The Royals, Meg calls them. Snobs, I call them"") when she and Josh Morgan work together on a history project. Besides exploring the narrator's predictably muddled emotions (Does Josh choose her for a research partner just to improve his history grade? Does Philip Park, the only other Asian at school, also want her for a girlfriend?), Balgassi (Peacebound Trains) goes one step further, offering insight into the struggles of Tae's Korean American family. Prejudices against the Kims echo throughout: their store is repeatedly vandalized; teachers as well as classmates express misconceptions about Asians. Mrs. Kim, moreover, feels isolated by the language barrier and her homesickness for Korea. Tae's unique background and perspective add depth to this account, which will also satisfy romantics who crave sympathetic heroines and easy, upbeat solutions to heartache. Ages 9-12. (Sept.)
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