Finding Junie Kim

Finding Junie KimMy father enlist­ed in the Navy at the age of 16 to fight in the Kore­an War. He was seri­ous­ly ill before he could ship out, and so he became a sup­ply clerk state­side. In May of 1953, he was dis­charged. The Kore­an War armistice took place in July. My par­ents were mar­ried on Sep­tem­ber 5th of that year and my father died on Octo­ber 11th. He was 21. I did­n’t lose him to the War, as so many did. I nev­er knew him. I’ve watched M*A*S*H, won­der­ing what life was like for sol­diers in that war, won­der­ing if my father’s life would have been dif­fer­ent, who he would have been hav­ing fought in a war.

Ellen Oh’s sto­ry is firm­ly root­ed in the present-day Unit­ed States where Junie Kim is wag­ing her own bat­tle against mid­dle school bul­lies and racism and depres­sion. She does­n’t know how to fight back and so she iso­lates her­self from her friends. Her par­ents encour­age her to see a ther­a­pist. But it’s her his­to­ry teacher who pro­vides the key that opens a door for Junie. An assign­ment to inter­view her grand­par­ents bring sto­ries to light that Junie has nev­er heard. Sto­ries of her grand­par­ents’ life in Korea … dur­ing the Kore­an War. For this read­er, the view­point of South Kore­an res­i­dents is wel­come, valu­able, mind-widening. 

The author unfolds the sto­ry in a way that young read­ers will find mes­mer­iz­ing, imag­in­ing her char­ac­ters in real life, turn­ing the page again and again to learn what will hap­pen next, both in mid-cen­tu­ry Korea and in the Unit­ed States today. You’ll be root­ing for Junie Kim and her fam­i­ly all the way. I high­ly rec­om­mend this book for ages 10 through adult. I am so glad it was cho­sen as an Asian/Pacific Amer­i­can Award for Lit­er­a­ture Hon­or Book in 2022.

Find­ing Junie Kim
writ­ten by Ellen Oh
Harper­Collins, 2021
ISBN 978 – 0062987983

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