A Step From Heaven

A Step from Heaven - An Na

I couldn’t pass this cover up at the library. The young girl’s face staring off into the distance with the soft undertones, it really grabbed my attention. This slender novel, with its intriguing synopsis had two awards attached to its label; I really thought this novel had somehow got past my radar. It was a quick read and I found myself learning a few Korean words in the process. I followed the story of Young Ju and her family as they move to the United States from Korea.   Like any move, the transition is difficult but it is the dream of America that shines in their eyes and glazes them over. They see hopes and dreams and they forget that there might be obstacles and barriers that they might need to overcome to obtain what they came for. They hope to get Young Ju a great education, they want her to successful. American is not Korea and the Park’s struggle every day.   Language barriers, friendships, financial hardships start to affect the family. The stress is hard on them and hard on the marriage which was once strong. Was their decision to come to America, the correct one for their family? Apa tries to be a good provider but the pressure is overwhelming for him and Uhmma wants desperately for this opportunity to work out for her family.   I could feel their desperation and felt for this family as there was constant tension within the family. They needed to work together, communicate with each other and decide on a plan. They were choosing sides, I felt and that didn’t help the situation.  

 

This novel had short chapters which were a plus and there weren’t that many characters to follow. It was interesting to learn about the barriers that her family faced when they came to America and I realize how important immigration programs are to individuals and to families like hers. I didn’t get to know her family or Young Ju in depth and I thought that the story was a bit choppy and the chapters didn’t quite flow for me. I think the novel brings to light some interesting issues and it made me think about acceptance and what is America.