Good Enough is Paula Yoo’s debut novel, about Patti, a Korean-American girl struggling to live up to her immigrant parents’ expectations. You may think you’ve read this book before, and maybe the plot is a little stereotypical, but Paula Yoo’s novel blows the rest of those books right out of the water! Seriously, it’s fantastic.
Patti has been trying all her life to make her parents happy. Immigrants from Korea, they push her to do everything possible to get into HARVARDYALEPRINCETON (which, yes, they say as one word like that), and if she ever slacks off, they tell her how hard they’ve worked to give her a better life in America. Because of their pressures, she studies almost constantly trying to secure her spot as valedictorian, is an accomplished violin player, and is shooting for at a 2300 on her SATs. At Korean church, everything is about bragging to the other Korean parents about how awesome your kid is. Patti doesn’t want to let her parents down, but she’s learning that she’s got to be faithful to what she wants, too. Rock music, a cute new guy friend, and reading teen magazines? Totally not what her parents had in mind. But maybe there’s a balance–making her parents happy, and being true to herself. Or is that too much to ask for?
I can relate to Patti, in a way. I am not Korean, and I put most of that 2300-SAT (which I have yet to achieve….2160), straight-A, first-in-my-class pressure on myself, but, still I can relate to being under all that pressure, to the point where you wonder if that’s really what you want. And, what’s more, I’m sure there are lots of other people out there who will be able to relate, too! I really hate it when people classify a book based on the ethnicity of the main character. Who cares if they’re black or Korean or Hispanic of Vietnamese? We’re all human, and a book with a Korean main character is certainly not meant to be read just by Koreans! That’s ridiculous, yet so often I see books classified as, for example, “African-American Fiction,” like white people can’t read and enjoy books about black people, which is just so insane and ridiculous. Hmm. I may have to write another post about this; this is a book review!
Anyway, back to GOOD ENOUGH–a book which, being absolutely marvelous, is far more than its title suggests! Patti is a very three-dimensional character, and a great narrator. This book was just so well-written, time slipped away from me while reading it! It’s very absorbing, and pretty much unputdownable. This is a funny, fresh and honest debut from a brilliant writer. I can’t wait to see what she writes next!