About the Book
The story of the Park family begins in America. Jin-Han and his parents live in Chicago, Illinois. Throughout the story, they move from town to town, state to state, trying to find their place in America. Eventually they settle in Texas, where Jin-Han's father becomes a salesman and they open a wig store. Jin-Han becomes more and more accustomed to American life while still struggling to remain true to his parents who are strong in their Korean heritage, especially his mother.
- Jin-Han struggles to become more like a normal American kid. One of his big obstacles is moving around so often. In what ways does Jin-Han become more Americanized in each city? Have you ever tried to fit in to a new school or new town? What did you feel were the easiest and hardest parts about being in a new place?
- Jin-Han's parents try to adjust to American life as best they can. How does his father adjust to life in the different cities they move to? How does his mother seem to stay stronger in her Korean way of life as they move from city to city? How does this affect Jin-Han? How does this affect Jin-Soo?
- When Jin-Han's family's friends come over, the group splits up - kids in one room, adults in the other. In what ways to Jin-Han's friends seem to be adjusting to American life? How does Jin-Han react to them? How do the parents react to all of the children?
- Toward the end of the book, Jin-Han meets a girl who then becomes his girlfriend. However, he always seems nervous about the situation. Why do you think he feels nervous? Why doesn't he tell his family about her? When Sue broke up with him he began to cry. Do you think he was just crying over Sue? Why or why not?
- Jin-Han helps to take care of his sister Jin-Soo throughout the story. In what ways does Jin-Soo depend on her brother? In what ways are they close? Do you have a brother or sister? In what ways are you alike? In what ways are you different?
Setting and Themes
- Jin-Han's mother said "Life is always hard. We have to work to make it easy." In what ways was life hard for the Park family? In what ways did they work to make things easier?
- In the beginning of the story, Jin-Han loses his hat. His mother keeps buying him other hats to try on, but none of them fit quite right. In what ways does the Park family "try on different hats" or try different ways to adjust?
- Jin-Han's mother doesn't understand why he wants to quit piano lessons. Why do you think he wants to quit? Why does it make his mother upset? Do you think it hurts her more that he is quitting piano or that he is becoming more American and less Korean in his ways? Explain.
- Throughout the story, Jin-Han's family moves from Chicago to Memphis to Houston. Has your family ever moved? How did the new place affect you? If you haven't moved, how do you think a move would affect you?