Thursday, June 27, 2013

Review: Since You Asked by Maurene Goo

Review: Since You Asked by Maurene Goo
Release date: June 25th, 2013
Publisher: Scholastic
Rating: A quirky, funny story focused on one Korean-American girl's sophomore year. Some really funny moments, but an ending that DEFINITELY leaves you wanting.

Since You Asked

A humorous, debut novel about a Korean-American teenager who accidentally lands her own column in her high school newspaper, and proceeds to rant her way through the school year while struggling to reconcile the traditional Korean values of her parents with contemporary American culture.

The cover: I ADORE this cover. I requested this book basically BECAUSE of the cover, and because it's about a Korean-American girl, and one in Southern California to boot. But look! So quirky! So irreverent! Hot pink! Cool font! POC!

The story: This book does a really good job of capturing a high school outsider's look at the follies of high school. Brand-new sophomore Holly Kim is perfectly happy to have only three quirky friends and be, essentially, invisible. She suffers in silence as a copy editor on the school newspaper and thinks high school is the worst. But when a mix-up puts her snarky opinions on the front page, suddenly everyone knows who Holly is. And now she's got her own column, where she can voice her own opinions. Basically, Holly Explains It All, all while she's suffering under her mother's traditional Korean Mom expectations.

I've never said this before in my life, but perhaps this book was... too quippy? I KNOW. WHO AM I. Don't get me wrong, I loved the humor, but I also wanted to feel grounded in the world a bit more. I get that HOLLY IS FUNNY, and I love that, but I also never felt like I knew Holly enough. Or at least, I wanted to know her better, though I really enjoyed being in her head, and learning all the lessons alongside her. She's a bit too dismissive of all things typical, though--popularity, dressing up, romance, prom-- which made her pretty typical, actually.

I'm a compulsive shipper. Basically, I always choose my ships the INSTANT I glimpse it on the horizon. (Warning: metaphor abuse). My harbor always feels sad and empty if I've got no ships tied up at my docks. So obviously, I chose a ship the INSTANT Holly said, "Hello" to my chosen shipmate. "Yes, you two," I said, nodding at my e-reade like a wise old lady. "You two shall be the Chosen Ones."

Well, my ship didn't pay off. And yes, that is NOT a legitimate reason to be cranky, but... IT SHOULD HAVE. They hinted at it. Oh, they so could have. But this book never went ANYWHERE, romance-wise, and my poor little ship just bobbed in the harbor all sad and pointless.

I'm making it sound like I didn't love this book. I did. I'm always blathering on about wanting for stories about minority characters, and Goo did a WONDERFUL job of portraying Holly's family, the pressures of her background, and all her cultural confusion. It felt very realistic to me, and what's more, it was funny. Her family is lovable, unreasonable, and stressful, just like all families are. The appeal of this book lies in it's realism, humor, and non-plotty plot, and experiencing Holly and all her Lane Kim-like struggles as she tries to figure out who she is and do new things. It's about getting out of your bubble.


I'm actually NOT a fan of open endings, and this one is REALLY open.First of all, my poor sad ship was DENIED safe docking, but a lot of loose ends weren't tied up on purpose. Unless this is the first in a series (which I don't think it is. I could be wrong, though), I prefer to have things a little more tightly wrapped up.

If you love books that focus on a phase in someone's life, rather than a momentous occasion, or cross-cultural YA, or snarky, sassy high school outsiders commenting on the hypocrisy of high school life, then I suggest you give Since You Asked a try!


  1. "my poor sad ship was DENIED safe docking"

    BAHAHAHA, I love you.

    Also, I think I have a copy of this coming from YABC. Sounds like it's worth the time? Yes? WHAT SAY YOU!


    *makes your bad metaphors even worse* But seriously', that's how I feel when a couple I want to get together does not get together. ARGH

    Think I may avoid this one just for that.

  3. !!!

    I literally JUST heard about this book today. Diana Peterfreund mentioned it to me when I asked for Asian characters during #RBWL. I think I'll still try it, but cautiously.

  4. Oh ships. Ships are the best, but a ship that doesn't sail is a ship that never should have been brought to your attention. I think we're all agreed on this though. On the other hand Holly sounds like she's so much fun to read about, even though I hate open endings as well... Great review!

  5. I'm completely with you on the I-basically-requested-this-because-of-the-cover front! It's perfect. Ooh and Mrs. Kim. How I miss that woman on my television!
    It's so great to hear she's a POC but that it isn't dealt with as an "issue" per se. I can usually deal with open endings, but it will be interesting to see with this one.

  6. Okay soooo the cover and your GG gifs? SOLD. This one is on my TBR, I think, but now I REALLY wanna read it. The main character sounds pretty cool. :) Plus? Journalism FTW!

    The ship thing sounds like a drag, at least for you. I tend to do that, too. Like with Shadow and Bone, even though I sorta liked the Darkling, it was Mal/Alina for me from the start, and I've never wavered. (Even with Stormhond! I COULD see them together but that doesn't mean I ship them.) When my ship goes down in flames or never gets their fair chance, I cry. And it isn't pretty. SULK.

  7. I've been really curious about this one! After reading your review, I'm admittedly leaning towards reading it more than I was before, in spite of the things that you pointed out. I can never resist an Asian MC.


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