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Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite
Please Love Umma by Gracie Kim is the story of Jenna Kim, an eleven-year-old Korean-American, which is loosely based on some historic events and real life experiences. Jenna Kim is brought up in an atmosphere where she has an overprotective mother and an understanding father. Though they loved her immensely, the relationship between them was strained. The story begins with Umma’s death and a young girl’s realization that the Kim family will not be Jenna, Abba, and Umma anymore. The story is set against the backdrop of the Koreantown district of Los Angeles, California and many Korean-American readers will be able to connect with this story.
The story chronicles the life of a girl who was raised in a dysfunctional family and her personal journey and growth as she goes through struggles, cultural differences, relationship issues with her family, her experiences, anxiety issues, and how she copes with all these problems to emerge a winner. The author takes readers back in time to the 1980s, when many of us can relate to the difficulties of immigrant parents struggling to raise their children in the US. It is a story of love, growing pains, identity crisis, family, and coming of age. The heartrending story of Jenna connects well with readers and they also get to read about the Los Angeles riots in the book. I liked the author’s casual approach to a complicated topic as she speaks about parenting, dealing with regular things kids do while growing up - like boys and crushes - and the manner in which she tries to bridge the gap between culture, time, and age.