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Secondhand World by Katherine Min
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Secondhand World

by Katherine Min

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  asianamlitfans | Nov 25, 2011 |
Isa (short for Isadora), the narrator of this book, is the teenaged daughter of Korean immigrants. In many ways, it's a typical coming of age story, one that, like so many second generation American novels, depicts a teen resentful of her ethnic heritage and her parents' ways. Isa rebels in a number of ways: socially, sexually, academically. And she learns that her parents hide secrets and dreams as well.

Overall, this was just an OK (but quick) read. It was a bit hard at times to empathize with the main character, which always makes a novel more difficult to appreciate. ( )
  Cariola | Mar 7, 2009 |
Isadora Myung Hee Sohn—Isa—has just spent ninety-five days in a pediatric burn unit in Albany, New York, recovering from the fire that burned her house and killed her parents. Moving back in time, Secondhand World casts a devastating spell, revealing the circumstances that led to the fire.

Growing up the daughter of Korean-born parents, Isa is bullied by American classmates and barely noticed at home. Seeking the company of another outsider, Isa falls in love with Hero, an albino boy. But what starts out as a small teenage rebellion sets in motion a series of events and revelations Isa never could have foreseen.

This was a very fast read. It was a coming of age novel about a girl who grows up the daughter of Korean parents living in the states, and all the cultural issues associated with it. She falls in love with an albino boy, likely due to the fact that they are both different. The story doesn't have so much to do with the fire but the life that was lived up until that point. It was very interesting and can be read in almost a single sitting. Very good book! ( )
1 vote takemeaway9 | Sep 7, 2008 |
Written in short-short chapters with beautiful precision, stirring imagery, emotional depth and a light sense of imminent tragedy (opens with her in a burn ward, both parents dead). Korean American Isa has a remote mathematical father, a beautiful and expressive although critical mother, a younger brother who dies at 4 (run over by truck delivering ma's coveted dishwasher), a hippie family as friends, and an albino boyfriend whose own differences make her feel less "other." The story charts the silences in a death-quieted household and the resulting isolation of all three family members. Graphically depicts raucous, uninhibited teen sex.
  sungene | Nov 20, 2007 |
I read this in anticipation of recommending it at Literature Group. However, the graphic sexual passages kept this book as a good choice. The book was well written and a good read. ( )
  rpappas | Dec 8, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307274993, Paperback)

Isadora Myung Hee Sohn—Isa—has just spent ninety-five days in a pediatric burn unit in Albany, New York, recovering from the fire that burned her house and killed her parents. Moving back in time, Secondhand World casts a devastating spell, revealing the circumstances that led to the fire.

Growing up the daughter of Korean-born parents, Isa is bullied by American classmates and barely noticed at home. Seeking the company of another outsider, Isa falls in love with Hero, an albino boy. But what starts out as a small teenage rebellion sets in motion a series of events and revelations Isa never could have foreseen.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:45 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Isadora Myung Hee Sohn-Isa worships her mother, an exceptional beauty, born in Seoul and sheltered in a harem of sisters inside the wealthy family's compound. Isa's father, a scientist and professor, an orphan, is haunted by the war in which he served as a South Korean soldier and by a painful secret that he keeps from his wife. Still mourning the death of Isa's younger brother, Stephen, her parents are traditional enough to prize their dead son over their living daughter; to them, Isa only half exists." "But unlike many Asian American daughters, Isa in neither meek nor a quiet victim of tradition. Despite her parents' success and sophistication - they've achieved the American dream - she repudiates their values, embarks on her own sexual education, and runs away with an albino boy, Hero. At the same time, Isa suspects that despite her mother's strict adherence to Korean traditional values, she is involved with another man, and Isa determines to make the affair known. What begins as a child's unthinking fury at her mother soon leads to more deadly consequences."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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