Since You Asked... by Maurene Goo
A humorous, debut novel about a Korean-American teenager who accidentally lands her own column in her high school newspaper, and proceeds to rant her way through the school year while struggling to reconcile the traditional Korean values of her parents with contemporary American culture.That summary, while not very exciting, is actually what got me to read the book. My husband's mother is a Korean-American and that was enough to convince me that I needed this story in my life.
Holly Kim is less than thrilled with her life. Her Korean-American parents tend to be over-bearing and, at least in Holly's mind, completely unreasonable. Why does her family think that Christmas should be celebrated in Las Vegas? Holly really would like to celebrate a tradition American Christmas just once.
(I laughed out loud many times while reading about Holly's family. My husband made me read those parts aloud to him. He even said that he thinks he and Holly may actually share the same mother.)
While not outcasts, Holly and her group of friends are not exactly what you could call popular.
First there is Carrie, who's hippie-chic parents seem so laid back and if it wasn't for their dinners of chard and tempeh, Holly would consider them perfect. Carrie, like Holly tends to dress for comfort, not impressing others. She's an "energetic ball of klutziness trapped inside a petite athletic build."
Next is Liz. Her Persian parents not only are wealthy and give Liz everything she could possibly want, they try to embrace American traditions with whole-hearted enthusiasm. Liz could totally fit in with the popular crowd, but she sought out Carrie and Holly because she was sick of the Barbie dolls.
David rounds out the friendship quartet. He is half Chinese and he understands many of Holly's parents' rules and prejudices. The written descriptions of David are not very flattering, like maybe he was trying a little too hard, but I still liked him best of all.
I spun around to see David rolling up on his trusty skateboard. Tall and lanky (I swear he grew a foot over the summer), he wore a knit beanie pulled over his mop of brown hair and a pair of Ray Bans.
"Wow. Uh, nice shades," I said.
He grinned. "I'm trying out a new look. I'm hoping it'll discourage people from talking to me this year. Do I look standoffish?"
"No, you look douche-offish."The friendship between these four is fantastic. They are loyal and stand up for each other, encouraging one another in their endeavors whether it be ballet (Liz), Battle of the Bands (Carrie and David), or almost getting arrested for under-age holding-of-a-beer (Holly).
Through a funny accident, Holly earns a column in the school newspaper she calls "Since You Asked... There she "barfs" her opinions every month and feels very smug about it. To her horror, Holly is assigned to do the feature on Matthew Reynolds, popular jock, and king of the rich and entitled.
After witnessing Matthew in his home environment, Holly and Matthew strike up a tentative friendship that is looked on with wonderment and a little disdain by both of their groups of friends. Holly's traitorous heart seems to flip flop every time she hears Matthew call her "Holly K".
Since You Asked... is a fun story of friendship and family with hints of romance. I enjoyed the author's writing style. The language felt just right for a group of fifteen year-olds without it feeling like the author was trying to throw in too many teen-isms. Also, normally I'm the type of gal that likes more than just a hint of romance, but I l liked this story just the way it is.
4 out of 5 stars
Thank you to Netgalley and Scholastic Inc for providing an ARC for a fair and honest review.
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