Paula Yoo's new novel Good Enough is Good Enough...
To be on every Asian American Studies and/or English class' syllabus across the land.
Good Enough is a charming, funny, utterly delightful and authentic peek at what it's like to be Korean and American in the USA.
Full disclosure: I am not related to Paula Yoo. I am Korean American but I actually learned a lot about Korean American teens and what seems to be the intense and wonderful experience of being really good at something like violin by reading this tale.
I did relate to the family stuff but there the empathy stopped and turned to sympathy since I did not grow up being a typical Korean American, though I seem to hang out with a number of them now...
I attended the opening night party for my dear friend, Julia Cho's play, BFE in New York City. I was at a table with Asians and one lone white guy. The subject of spelling bees came up because Deborah S. Craig had recently told someone about being interviewed about the musical she was in, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Apparently, actor after actor said that it was ironic that they should be in the Spelling Bee because in real life, they were not very good spellers at all -- except for Deborah, who is Korean American and won her own school spelling bee. Every single Asian at the table (except for me) went onto regale us with stories about how they either won their school's spelling bee or were first runner-up. Each person even remembered the word they spelled to win! I turned to the white dude and shrugged. He shrugged back. I said, "I didn't win any spelling bees growing up and I have no recollection of them at all, let alone what word I missed!" "Yeah, me, too," the guy replied.
Julia jumped in and commented, "That's because you guys weren't nerds like us."
Oh. Now, wait a minute, I'm pretty sure I was one. I think I was a just nerd on that path not taken by most... I cannot read a single note of sheet music. I played tennis for my high school.
I was in rock bands instead of orchestra.
All this to say, I loved Good Enough even though I must admit, it was somewhat out of my millieu. I can't do math to save my life. No, really.
The clarity of the writing infused with the laugh out loud moments made this book a winner.
Not to spoil things, but Yoo even cleverly crafts an SAT joke in the form of an SAT question!
There's a lot to be said for the beauty a talented overachiever like Paula Yoo can create...
Caveat: Do not read this book while hungry. Yoo includes descriptions of food and a few mouth watering recipes between chapters! I had to stop reading twice to go to the kitchen to make ramen spam and then kim bop spam before I could read on. I'm not so sure this book was good for my diet but it certainly did nourish my mind and soul with its positive and honest messages about deciding what to be and do as one grows up...
For more info on the gifted Ms. Yoo, please visit: paulayoo.com