Monday, May 3, 2010
A Step from Heaven by An Na
A Step from Heaven is An Na's first novel. It is marketed as a YA book.
The story is about a Korean family that immigrates to the East Coast and the struggles they face to adapt to a new culture, while keeping their Korean roots.
These kind of stories are prominent right now, and my personal opinion is that once you've read a few of them, you can quit. It's the same theme over and over: the children adapt to the American culture. It is probably good for every white American to read one to gain sympathy and understanding for others. If you've already read something similar, and you've gained sympathy and respect for immigrating families, then you can skip this one. If this is a topic you enjoy, then here is another one for you to add to your list!
My beef with the novel is the way An Na portrays God. As a young girl in Korea, Young's grandmother taught her about Christianity and how to pray to Jesus. Her grandmother was raising her in the faith. Then at age 4, Young and her parents move to America, and the family leaves the grandma and Christianity behind in Korea. Much later in the novel, Young's mom takes the kids to a Christian church in desperation. The mother finds love, acceptance, and a church family, and begins regularly attending church with the kids. If the faith part had ended there, it would be fine.
At the climax of the book, Young's father, in a drunken fit, is beating his mother, and Young fears he may kill her, so she dials 911 but is too scared to talk to the operator. She coaches herself to save her mom and then remembers her grandma's voice saying "Only God can." She hears her mother wail and the text continues: "I am not a child anymore. I do not have time to wait for God. There is only me. I pick up the phone and raise it to my ear..."
I am completely disappointed with this novel.