From master storyteller and Printz Award–winning author An Na comes a thoughtful novel about American beauty standards through the eyes of a Korean-American teenager who must decide how far she’s willing to go to be seen as beautiful.
On the last day of her junior year, Joyce Park finally musters up the courage to ask her crush to sign her yearbook, but he can’t remember her name. Joyce questions whether she’ll ever be pretty or special enough to stand out, especially when her older sister, Helen, outshines her in every way. When Joyce’s plastic-surgery-crazed aunt wins the lottery and decides to help everyone in the family improve their looks, Joyce is offered the chance to have eyelid surgery to give her monolids a fold. Joyce is certain that this surgery could change her life, then she’ll look more like the typical white American beauty—the kind of girl her crush dates. But Joyce hates pain. Any pain. And while her best friend can’t believe she would give up the opportunity to change her looks, Joyce’s sister can’t believe she would even consider the surgery. Is fitting in worth going under the knife for?
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.