School Library Journal
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Gr 8-10-As one of only a handful of Asian-American students at her posh Los Angeles high school, 16-year-old Joyce Park has never felt as though she fits in. In the throes of an intense crush on John Ford Kang, a gorgeous and aloof classmate, she is consumed with worry about the way she looks, especially in comparison to her beautiful older sister, a social and academic superstar who seems to get everything she wants. Then her cosmetic surgery-addicted aunt comes into a lottery windfall and offers Joyce a gift: surgery to add a fold to her eyelids, transforming her Korean features into something more Western and, it is suggested, more beautiful. At first Joyce is appalled at the idea, but as she begins to obsess about the eyes of the Asian women around her, she becomes increasingly convinced that "the fold" is all that lies between her imperfect appearance and the ideal of feminine beauty. But will the surgery require her to give up her sense of herself in the process? Na explores issues of beauty and ethnic identity with sensitivity and wit. Her protagonist is carefully and realistically drawn; even as the novel is guided by a larger message about self-esteem, Joyce's struggles and choices never seem predetermined for didactic purposes. This story will speak to both Asian-American teens and other adolescents dealing with issues related to the way that they look, the way they wish to be perceived, and the often painful distance between the two.-Meredith Robbins, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School, New York City (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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The Printz Award-winning author of A Step from Heaven goes lightweight, or lighter, in this story about a Korean-American teenager whose wealthy aunt has just won a lottery and offers her plastic surgery for double eyelid folds. On the one hand, Joyce longs to be as beautiful as her perfect, high-achieving older sister, Helen, but she can't stand pain. Yet how else will she attract her handsome classmate, John Ford Kang, who confuses her with their ugly Korean-American classmate? Then again, does she really want to be like Aunt Gomo, who has had so much cosmetic surgery that Joyce and her younger brother have nicknamed her Michael "for the singer who had altered his appearance beyond recognition"? In creating her bumbling, would-be Everygirl protagonist, Na gives only surface attention to the issues she raises: the pressures of conventional standards of beauty, especially Western demands on Asian women; conformity versus individuality (Joyce is the last in the family to discover that Helen is gay). Joyce remains focused on appearances, being rude to the generous, sensitive boy who has cystic acne, liking John Ford Kang for his looks and learning tricks to make her eyes appear less Asian. By the end, the suffering of supporting characters seems to have been airbrushed away. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
When Joyce's image-obsessed aunt Gomo offers to pay for surgery to make Asian eyelids appear more Western, the teen is unsure about going under the knife, even though she dreams of finally wearing eye shadow without looking weird and fluttering extrawide eyes at her crush. Her agonized decision making provides readers with the medical nuts and bolts, as well as a balanced look at the issues, with input from a responsible plastic surgeon, Joyce's outraged older sister, and a peer who has already acquired the folds with no regrets. Though just as rooted in contemporary Korean American family life as Na's previous books, which include Printz winner A Step from Heaven (2001), the author's third outing is both lighter in tone and less multidimensional a flaw that isn't much aided by a hurried revelation about a family member's sexuality. That being said, few teens exist who have not yearned for a quick-fix transformation, including many for whom surgery may be a real option, and they'll welcome the solid facts as they, along with Joyce, ask difficult questions about the correlation between superficial alterations and genuine empowerment.--Mattson, Jennifer Copyright 2008 Booklist