Thursday, January 22, 2009


Poised at the Edge Book Review
Paula Yoo

The pressure is on! Seventeen -year-old Patti Yoon is driven to please her overbearing, though completely hard-working, honest Korean parents. Her job is to be a PKD (a perfect Korean daughter), attend an Ivy League school, marry a Korean doctor, and become a Korean doctor. Her parents also push her in her "hook." Ivy leaguers need a "hook' that sets them apart from all the other college applicants. Patti is an amazing violinist. She plays with great passion and a natural gift. Despite her talent, Patti's parents believe that being a musician is too risky as a career goal.
Patti is a not quite a prodigy when it comes to the violin. For the last three years she's been concertmaster at the All-State music competition. Her parents are shamed when she is demoted to "assistant concertmaster" her senior. It's just one more thing that's not "good enough." Patti's position has been usurped by a twelve-year-old prodigy, who has completely lost his love and passion for music. Seeing the boy is part of what makes Patti realize that she has to be the master of making decisions about her own life.
Patti's world opens up when she meets Cute Trumpet Guy. He's really smart and cool. Also he opens her up to music in a whole new way. Here's the problem, even though the two of them have a great relationship, built on like-mindedness and camaraderie, he only has eyes for Stephanie. She's the quintessential white Barbie doll. And she's not very nice. Life just seems really unfair.
In GOOD ENOUGH Paula Yoo uses rampant humor to illuminate the life of a (fairly) dutiful, first generation Korean American girl. While the story itself is often hilarious, many of the situations are poignant and sad. We see Patti having to watch her successful immigrant father be publicly humiliated by an ignorant racist. We see a culture of people who put tremendous pressure on themselves, and their children. It's tough to be Patti Yoon.
Although GOOD ENOUGH is thoroughly seeped in Korean culture, it's also full themes and ideas that almost anyone can relate to. Patti suffers from an unrequited love that at times obliterates every other area of her life. When she's thinking about Ben Wheeler she's not thinking about the violin, her SATs, or HARVRDYALEPRINCETON. Also Patti is so driven to please her parents that she has never really explored what it means to please herself. GOOD ENOUGH is ultimately about Patti learning that she is good enough to follow her own dreams. I loved this book!

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