cover image Finding Junie Kim

Finding Junie Kim

Ellen Oh. HarperCollins, $16.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-0629-8798-3

Oh (The Dragon Egg Princess) conveys the legacy of bravery, tenderness, and forgiveness alongside the fallout of intergenerational trauma in a complex novel that touches on gender discrimination and racism, mental health, and imperialism and civil war. Following a series of racist incidents at her largely white middle school, including graffiti targeting Black, Jewish, and Asian students, Korean American student Junie Kim, 12, falls out with her friend group and into a fatalistic spiral, eventually receiving a diagnosis of depression. As prejudicial bullying continues at school, an assignment leads Junie to interview her beloved grandparents, Doha and Jinjoo, about their experiences during the Korean War, an experience that gives her renewed resilience and courage. Oh alternates Junie’s first-person tale of a contemporary America replete with MAGA hats and “fake news” with her grandparents’ stories of war-torn South Korea, injecting experiences of painful realism through wartime events, ethnic slurs, and a description of suicidal ideation. Junie’s healthy and inclusive family dynamic contributes warmth and hopefulness, and her grandparents’ backstories and personal integrity in the face of hardship are thoughtfully drawn. Ages 8–12. [em]Agent: Marietta B. Zacker, Gallt & Zacker Literary. (May) [/em]