Monday, September 28, 2015

Book Review: A Step from Heaven by An Na (no spoilers)

Book: A Step from Heaven
Author: An Na
Publication: Oct. 13th, 2003
Source: College Library
Read: Sept 8-17, 2015
Summary (from Goodreads):

When Young Ju is four years old, she learns that her family is leaving their small fishing village in Korea to live in Mi Gook. Young Ju has heard enough about Mi Gook to be sure the place they are moving to is paradise, that she and her family are going to heaven.

 After flying through the sky for a long time, Young Ju finds out that Mi Gook is actually a regular earthly place called America. And it doesn't feel at all like heaven. A STEP FROM HEAVEN follows Young's life from the age of 4 all the way up until she is ready for college, as we watch her change from a hopeful girl into a hardened young adult.

My Thoughts:

I need to read a book for my English Language Learners course that involved a child coming to America and having to learn English. I originally was going to read a different book, but couldn't find it at the library, so I chose A Step from Heaven because it was short and sounded good. I didn't plan to like this book or enjoy it, but I knew I needed to read it.

Young Ju and her family move to Mi Gook (America) with the hope of a new start in the land of dreams. The grass is not greener on the other side for Young Ju and her family. Her brother Joon is born and the family struggles to make ends meet, learn English, and fit into the culture of America.

This book follows Young Ju from when she is four until she is going to leave for college. This book is short, but covers a lot of ground. We get to watch Young Ju enter school to going to middle school and high school. I really got to watch Young Ju change in this book. She is no longer a korean girl, but not truly an american either. She became uniquely her own person.

The writing style in this book is really easy to follow along with and each chapter had a different topic that it talked about. It all flowed. This is a young adult book, but has some serious themes such as abuse. Her apa (father) gets abusive mostly when he drinks. He grows increasingly unhappy in America as the book progresses. Young Ju's Uhmma (mother) is very soft spoken and a sweet heart.

One thing my professor told me that I should get out of this novel is that as a teacher there may be things going on at home that you do not know about. Young Ju had many things going on at home that she wasn't sharing at school. It is hard to see a child suffering, but have no way to help them. Sometimes you can not even tell that they are having a difficult time, such is the case in Young Ju's situation.

I was surprised that I enjoyed this book so much that I'm trying to convince my sister to read it. It was a nice way to unwind at the end of a long day and I really connected with the characters and their transition into American society. I would be the same way if I moved to a different country. It is difficult to become apart of another culture. It really opened my eyes to what it feels like to be new to a country and learn English for the first time. I'm glad I read this book and I would totally recommend it for something outside of your comfort zone.


  1. This looks really good, and it is a Printz award book! I'll have to check it out.

    1. It was surprisingly the best book I have read in a while.


Hi my name is Rachael and I want to thank you for commenting on my blog. I appreciate every single comment I receive and I reply back to all comments.