Summary: Good Enough
In Paula Yoo’s Good Enough, high school senior Patti Yoon is preparing to retake the SATs after failing to make her Korean proud with her 2010 score. It doesn’t help that she’s also lost her concertmaster position at the All-State Orchestra. Both “failures” are conversation fodder at her Korean church where she also plays music.
But, on a high note, she meets a cute trumpet player, Ben, at the audition and is excited to find out he goes to her school. Her toughest decision, however, is whether or not to apply to Julliard. See, although Patti has the violin chops to apply, her Korean parents see only “HAVARDYALEPRINCETON.”
To complicate matters, she can’t seem to figure out whether or not Ben likes her, likes her. Even though he invites her to make music together, he’s dating another girl at school.
I enjoyed this book a lot. Patti’s sense of humor and her experiences as a child of Korean immigrants are simultaneously funny and difficult. In this OwnVoices YA novel, the author realistically depicts the stress that can result from trying to please one’s parents, especially when your dreams may be different from theirs.
Another fun part of this book is Patti’s church group and her Korean community. While all competitive, friends like Samuel show up for her by driving her to make music at Ben’s house — without her parents’ knowledge. I also loved Patti’s Korean meal recipes and her the author’s descriptions of music.
The college interview scenes were some of my favorites, as was the advice Patti receives from one of the interviewers. Finally, this book stands out to me because of the way the author handles Patti’s crush on Ben. I don’t want to spoil it, but this is not your typical YA. This book refreshingly focuses on Patti’s goals and her ability to determine her life’s trajectory.
Overall: Good Enough
Paula Yoo’s Good Enough is a funny, inspiring ode to music and Korean parents. Loosely based on the author’s life, this novel is very realistic about parental pressures and the stress of college applications. My favorite thing about this book is the message that your college major doesn’t have to define you. Patti learns that she can always change careers and she can be multiple things at once.
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Have you read this book or anything by Paula Yoo? What did you think? What are your favorite YA books about music? I’d love to know!