Unidentified Suburban Object

Mike Jung. Scholastic/Levine, $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-545-78226-5
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.)
Reviewed on: 03/07/2016
Release date: 04/26/2016
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-545-78227-2
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