Review of GOOD ENOUGH, by Paula Yoo

Book Description

How to make your Korean parents happy:

1. Get a perfect score on the SATs.
2. Get into HarvardYalePrinceton.
3. Don’t talk to boys.*

Patti’s parents expect nothing less than the best from their Korean-American daughter. Everything she does affects her chances of getting into an Ivy League school. So winning assistant concertmaster in her All-State violin competition and earning less than 2300 on her SATs is simply not good enough.

But Patti’s discovering that there’s more to life than the Ivy League. To start with, there’s Cute Trumpet Guy. He’s funny, he’s talented, and he looks exactly like the lead singer of Patti’s favorite band. Then, of course, there’s her love of the violin. Not to mention cool rock concerts. And anyway, what if Patti doesn’t want to go to HarvardYalePrinceton after all?

Paula Yoo scores big in her hilarious debut novel about an overachiever who longs to fit in and strives to stand out. The pressure is on!

*Boys will distract you from your studies.

My review:

GOOD ENOUGH is about a brilliant Korean-American teenaged girl who has a dilemma: should she attend an Ivy League school and pursue a career in law or medicine–as her strict and ambitious parents want her to do–or should she follow her heart and go for what she loves most, playing the violin. This last choice may not bring her much money or success, but it may bring her joy. So the novel has an universal theme: Money and status doesn’t necessarily define success and happiness.

The story begins when Patti is in her senior year of high school. She’s in the process of applying to universities and preparing for her college entrance exams, all the while trying to keep up with her demanding classes and position as the second violinist in the All-State orchestra. Her parents only add to her stress. Though it’s clear they love her, they push her to the extreme, afraid she won’t ‘make it’–and to them, the only way to ‘make it’ is to be admitted to Harvard, Yale or Princeton.

Then she becomes infatuated with a boy at school. Though she’s enough focused on her work not to be too distracted by him, their friendship sends her parents into utter panic, especially when she escapes Sunday church club to play in his rock band!

Finally Patti has to make a decision: will she live her life or the life her parents want her to live for them? Will she choose happiness over money and status?

I enjoyed reading this young adult novel so much, I finished it in two days. Not only because the protagonist is a violinist, but because of the way the author brings her to life with all her struggles and dilemmas and also because the writing is, put simply, very good.

The writing is clever, witty, yet emotional and sensitive at the same time. I laughed out loud many times. The protagonist comes across as a genuine person. I’m not not surprised, since in my previous interview with the author she mentions that the story is based on her own life growing up. Another great aspect of this book is that all references about music and violin playing are so real. When the author is a violinist herself, that makes all the difference. The prose shines with authenticity.

GOOD ENOUGH is a light, fun read–but it also has the substance of a serious work of fiction. Perhaps this is what impressed me most about this book.

Violinist of all ages will surely enjoy Patti’s story. Highly recommended!

Purchase the book HERE.

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