From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8. Tae is a Korean-American eighth grader. It's bad enough that her social studies teacher assigns her South Korea for her class project, but he also pairs her with popular Josh Morgan, which garners her the spite of a popular clique of girls. When Tae's best friend, Meg, starts hanging out with these girls, Tae shuns her and, in her sulky loneliness, starts to notice those around her with more sympathy: her mother, who gave up her close circle of friends when they left Korea; Philip, the other Korean American at her school, who turns out not to be quite as stuck up as she first imagined; and Josh, who, despite being popular, is really a nice guy. Gaining respect for others, Tae is able to patch up her friendship with Meg, improve her relationship with her parents, and find a bit of romance in her life. The characters are familiar and believable (except, perhaps, for Josh, who seems too sensitive to be true), and aspects of Korean life are well incorporated into the story. The plot gets corny in parts (especially at the end, where Balgassi drops the ball on all the interesting characters in favor of a happy ending for Tae and Josh), and remarks on racial/ethnic dynamics in Tae's life seem sometimes heavy-handed, but the book, overall, is well written and appealing.?Nina Lindsay, Vista School, Albany, CA
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Eighth-grader Taeyoung Kim feels torn between her Korean heritage and her new American culture. When she is assigned to do a report on South Korea with one of the most popular boys in school, her feelings begin to surface: She's embarrassed about being ``different,'' her modest upbringing, and her parents. The storyline and themes- -feeling out of place and struggling with the popular crowd--are well known; Marie G. Lee (If It Hadn't Been for Yoon Jun, 1993, etc.) has deftly limned aspects of the Korean experience along these lines. Here, the resolution is predictable. The title and main theme are linked to Tae's piano-playing, which comes across as an afterthought instead of an integral part of the story. While readers get a sense of who Tae is, they may become frustrated with her passivity; the few instances in which she reflects on her life in Korea are adequate, but lack power. Readers will empathize more with Tae's parents, whose tender characterizations are the best in the book. Tae grows and learns, and gets the cute boy, which will satisfy those seeking light fare and no surprises. (Fiction. 8-12) -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.