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A Step from Heavenby An Na
Synopses & Reviews
This is the story of Young Ju, a Korean-born girl who moves to America with her parents when she is five years old. The flight to California is Young Jus first and while going up and up and up into the sky, she concludes that they are on their way to Heaven — Heaven is in America! In America, her father does not get a high-paying job and they are not able to buy a big house as they dreamed. Initially they live with Apas sister and her American husband. Young Jus mother is pregnant. When Uhmma objects to Apas plan to move them into a rented duplex, Apa becomes violently angry. He blames Uhmma for everything — and in a gut-wrenching scene Young Jus father slaps her mother — I do not see Apas hand. It is too fast. I only hear the slap, loud as breaking glass. [b]lood drips down her chin. Her lips are broken grapes.” Young Ju goes to kindergarten and begins the acculturation process. Her brother, Joon, is born the following summer and she is rudely awakened to the fact that her father does not value her as highly as he values his son. He wants to turn Joon into a man, but his methods are outmoded and inappropriate — sometimes abusive. He loses the ability to control his own behavior, his drinking increases, and he hurts his family both emotionally and physically. Young Jus hardworking and self-sacrificing mother holds the family together as best she can. A Step From Heaven portrays Young Jus growth in a foreign culture. Her family life is insular, dominated by the mores and traditions of her native land. Ill-equipped as they are to function in the world theyve chosen, they each respond in a way true to their character. An Nas language authentically reflects the process of acculturation as her protagonist, Young Ju, grows to maturity.
In this first novel, a young girl describes her family's bittersweet experience in the United States after their emigration from Korea. While going up and up into the sky on the flight from Korea to California, four-year-old Young Ju concludes that they are on their way to heaven - America is heaven! After they arrive, however, Young Ju and her parents and little brother struggle in their new world, weighed down by the difficulty of learning English, their insular family life, and the traditions of the country they left behind. An Na's striking language authentically reflects the process of acculturation as Young Ju grows from a child to an adult.
When she is five, Young Ju Park and her family move from Korea to California. During the flight, they climb so far into the sky she concludes they are on their way to heaven — that Heaven is in America!<P>Life in America, however, is far more difficult than the Parks dreamed. Jobs are scarce and money is even scarcer. Young Ju's father soon becomes so depressed and angry that he loses the ability to control his own behavior, his drinking increases, and he hurts his family both emotionally and physically. Dominated by the mores and traditions of their native land, her family is ill-equipped to function in the world they've chosen and they each respond in a way true to their character.
About the Author
An, Na was born in Korea and grew up in San Diego, California. She is a graduate of Amherst College and received her MFA in Writing Children's Literature from Vermont College. A former middle school English and history teacher, she now writes full time. She lives in Kensington, CA. A Step From Heaven is her first novel.
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