Friday, April 17, 2015

Girls for Breakfast review

Girls for Breakfast
by David Yoo
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
May 2005

First line: "I'm standing on top of the water tower behind my house, thinking about my death and the inevitable bronze statue the graduating class will erect in my memory."

Graduating senior Nick Park is dead certain his lack of success with girls is because he is the only Korean-American in his small white bread town in Connecticut. While this story isn't quite a bildungsroman, surprisingly there are many, many flashbacks to Nick's childhood, as he  reflects on where he could have possibly gone wrong. Starting in third grade, Nick finds himself an outcast when he accidentally kills the class gerbil. His fresh-off-the-boat parents are a deep embarrassment to him and he desperately longs to not be Korean. At school, his white peers commit micro-aggressions on a daily basis - confusing him for Chinese,  assuming that he must be a martial arts master, making thoughtless racist comments without even really thinking about it.

Crass, sex-obsessed, opinionated, dramatic, and self-deprecatingly funny, Nick's story will have appeal for guy readers. His continual social flubs are painful to read and he ends up in a downward spiral. Feeling horribly self-conscious and unpopular, he makes one poor decision after another and tries too hard to win people over, causing him to behave in the most awkward fashion possible, only further cementing his status as an unlikeable loser with his classmates. Even when he finally does make some friends in high school, he is still terrified of losing them, and suspicious of their motivations. When he snags a white girlfriend, he's certain that she'll cheat on him. The only thing that could have made Nick's situation more pitiable is if he had been a Korean adoptee, with truly zero access to other Korean-Americans. As it is, even though he rejects his family, his parents force him to join the Korean youth group at his church, and eventually he does begin to reconcile his cognitive dissonance with his heritage. Hopefully, things will start looking up for Nick, when he gets a fresh start as he heads off to college.

Compare to:
Trouble - Gary D. Schmidt
Bitter Melon - Cara Chow
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian - Sherman Alexie
The Other Normals - Ned Vizzini

I borrowed this book from the library.

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