Reviews

Finding My Voice, by Marie Myung-Ok Lee, Kat Cho

amiefiremoon's review against another edition

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3.0

Finding My Voice is a coming of age story about a Korean teen who is bullied by her peers because of her race and struggling with how best to fit in to a traditional Korean values and expectations paired with living a typical American teen's life. The messages of resilience are timeless. That being said, I didn't truly connect with this book. I found the narrative to be a bit simplistic and the dialogue didn't flow naturally. I also didn't feel much emotion from any of the characters. Because of that I rate this 3 stars / 5.

Advanced reader copy provided courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

eajohnson's review against another edition

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emotional hopeful inspiring reflective fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.5

hannahslibrary92's review against another edition

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4.0

*I received this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

This was such a great book. From start to finish, I was hooked.
It was a quick, enjoyable and interesting read, dealing with some very real and compelling issues.
I would definitely recommend this book.

mreadsbooksnfics's review against another edition

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4.0

I thought I knew 90s YA well. This book was a pleasant surprise to discover. I was taken in by the cover and the story is just as great. Even though it’s a short novel, it’s interesting and well done.

Ellen is living with her parents who want her to attend Harvard like her sister. She is trying to enjoy her last year of high school, getting good grades and doing gymnastics. She’s also struggling with her racist classmates and the remarks they make towards her, ignorantly assuming she’s Chinese and never taking the time to learn she’s Korean. She even endures racist comments from a teacher and dismissive comments from another teacher regarding racist comments from classmates. She’s dealing with pressure from her parents, trying to decide where she wants to go to college, and just being a teen. This was a great glimpse into life for an Asian American teen in the 90s, a new perspective I was excited to read about.

This book is very interesting and I couldn’t stop listening. The narrator is well chosen, giving the best emotion and thoughtfulness to Ellen. I found her voice realistic and similar to how I felt as a teen in some ways, even though I’m not Asian American and cannot speak on this aspect. The audio made me get lost in the story, enjoying each moment and experiencing the same emotions because it was gripping.

I’m grateful to be able to have read this book, learning about a new perspective and enjoying the 90s vibes. I hope many new readers will enjoy this novel as well.

A huge thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the arc in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

sunsetreader09's review against another edition

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emotional informative lighthearted slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

1.75

aleah__latham29's review against another edition

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emotional hopeful inspiring lighthearted fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

mugglethatreads's review against another edition

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4.0

I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it. It's always nice to read about Asian (or other POC) characters. This book established that it's ok to be different and that different does not mean bad. I like that there have been a lot more Asian American authors writing YA novels recently and I think this is the perfect time for a reissue of Finding My Voice.

Like Ellen, I am also Asian. Things like not being able to speak my heritage language, not having eyelids, and having high expectations from your parents are also a part of my life. I really enjoyed Ellen's interest in her parent's past and how she finds the balance between making her parents happy and doing what makes herself happy. Ellen's development throughout this story was really nice to see. Her parent's reaction to events towards the end of the book shows how much they love her. They push her and are strict because they think they are doing what is best for her.

I really liked how a touch of romance was incorporated into the story. It didn't undermine the message of the book but definitely made the book more enjoyable. At first, I didn't like Tomper but he grew on me and I definitely found myself crying at the end.

I also enjoyed Ellen and Jessie's friendship. I love how Jessie stood up for Ellen ever since the beginning, and yes, she isn't perfect, but she tries and takes Ellen's side the moment she realises her mistake.

The execution and writing of this book just felt a bit lacking. There were a few REALLY good lines scattered throughout that felt out of place compared to the other sentences. I particularly thought that the ending was not enough. I would have liked Ellen to have done a little bit more and have realised it's time to stand up for herself. I also would have loved an epilogue. I need to know that Jessie and Ellen stay in touch. I need Ellen and Tomper to have a little bit more closure.

I think I would have appreciated this book more if I read it when it was first released in the 90s. A lot of the references are outdated and although it was nice to read about a different time, I think the story would have gone differently if it was set today. However, I am really glad that this book is getting republished because I think it would great for more people to discover it. I wish I had found this book sooner.

yousaidokay's review against another edition

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3.0

I was incredibly surprised to find out that this book was originally published in 1992, as the book still seems so relevant to 2020. It's sad to know that also 30 years later, there is still people dealing with the same type of racist bullies that Ellen faced in this book. Much of what Ellen goes through in this book reflects what teenagers are still going through now.

Ellen is a seventeen year old girl who lives in Minnesota. She is apart of the only Korean-American family in the town where she lives in, making her an outsider and a target for bullies and micro-aggressions. At the beginning of her senior year, she starting liking a popular white boy named Tomper. She's surprised that he likes her back.

tbhonest_uk's review against another edition

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5.0

Finding My Voice is a relevant and thought provoking read with a very strong protagonist who entices you in to her story and makes you feel her emotions. Tackles topics such as racism which very much a relevant topic.

novelty_reads's review against another edition

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4.0

ARC kindly provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

This book had a lot more heart than I thought it'll have. It dealt with a lot of issues such as racism, growing up, first love and fitting in. I'm really glad that this book is scheduled to be republished to reach a broader and new generation of readers.

Finding My Voice follows the story of 17 year old Ellen Sung, a regular girl who just wants to be like everyone else at her American high school. The people in her town however, never forget to remind her of her cultural differences of being a Korean-American. At the start of the year she starts falling for the cute popular boy, Tomper who seemingly likes her too but is their relationship enough to withstand the bigotry of her town and the disapproval of her family?

I found that the book was really light hearted despite its darker and more serious themes. It's well written with a real focus on Ellen trying to finish her last year of school and trying to satisfy her parents high expectations on what she should do once she graduates. More importantly, it shows Ellen struggling and overcoming the extreme racism and racist slurs of her peers and teachers. She uses the racist remarks as a motivator for her to do better in class and to achieve well to get into the University of her dreams.

I really enjoyed looking into Ellen's personal life with her family, her relationship with Tomper and her own identity as a student at her school. I thought each aspect of her life was carefully looked at and written. However, with Tomper I found that the relationship was built up too quickly for my liking. Despite its shortness I thought that if the romance was developed slower then I would've increased my rating.

All in all, I really enjoyed the book and thought it was very careful and thoughtful with the themes depicted in it. I reckon that if this book was published today with current themes, the whole plot would've been very different especially with the prevalence of social media and cyber-bullying. Nevertheless though, it must be said that this book is very important to a wide variety of readers and should be on many people's to-be-read pile.

ACTUAL RATING: 4 STARS