May 19, 2020
‘Almost American Girl’ is the heartfelt, relatable, and in the end positive coming-of-age story of a Korean girl whose highly self-sufficient single mom (in a culture not welcoming to single moms) takes her on vacation to Alabama, only to announce that she (mom) is getting married and they’re moving there, throwing her right into the deep end of a new school in a completely foreign culture and language she doesn't understand.
Chuna/Robin's experience of being the ultimate new kid at school, with difficulty making friends and mean kids making her the butt of their jokes, is highly relatable to anyone who has ever felt like the odd one out. Her difficulty integrating into her new American family, with step-siblings and step-cousins who already have their own lives and don't have much patience for this new kid bumped into their cliques, is also very sympathetic. People’s flaws are shown, but nobody is demonized. It's a realistic portrayal of characters readers will not always agree with, but whose actions and choices they will come to understand (whether they sympathize or not) as Robin grows and matures. If you've never been the new kid yourself, this book is an excellent window into the experiences of other people you might know or meet!
The storytelling flows very nicely through Robin's experiences and emotions, building to a point where she finally grows up enough to make her own decision of where she will make her own life as an adult. I highly recommend this graphic novel for readers aged teen to adult who like contemporary stories, realistic drama, or stories about family relationships!
This graphic novel is available as an eBook. For more stories about young people navigating multiple cultures, check out our book-list Between Cultures!