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The Fold

by An Na

Published by Putnam, 2008
280 pages
ISBN: 9780399242762

Age 12 and older

Korean American teenager Joyce Park is annoyingly obsessed with her looks, which she wishes were better, and her love life, which is nonexistent, although she dreams of dating popular John Ford Kang. Then Joyce’s wealthy aunt, Gomo, a big believer in self-improvement, bestows each member of Joyce’s family with a gift of Gomo’s own choosing. For Joyce’s beautiful older sister Helen, it’s unwanted matchmaking. For Joyce’s mother, it’s unwanted eyebrow tattoos. For Joyce herself, Gomo offers plastic surgery, so that her eyelids can have a fold. Joyce is thrilled with the effect on her own self-esteem—and the response of a group of popular teens—when the surgeon temporarily tapes her eyelids, but she’s not absolutely certain about moving ahead with the surgery. Joyce’s family is loving and funny, yet complex dynamics further cloud her decision-making. Joyce’s parents feel steamrolled by Gomo’s generosity, unable to refuse because of all she has done for their family. Meanwhile Gomo, who seems to focus only on superficial appearance, reveals the painful racism she experienced in the past that sheds new light on her desire to fit American standards of beauty. And it turns out that Helen is not just unhappy about the matchmaking, she is also mourning a painful loss of love and friendship—a revelation that self-absorbed Joyce has been blind to for far too long. An Na deftly explores issues relating to appearance and esteem, as well as the tensions and joys that come with being a family, in a book abut a teen who starts out shallow and plumbs far greater depths by story’s end.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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