A Library of the School of EducationDPIUW-Madison School Of EducationUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonUW-Madison LibraryUW-Madison Catalog
About the CCBC
Authors and Illustrators
Recommended Books for Children and Young Adults
CCBC Calendar and Events
CCBC Podcasts
CCBC Publications
Intellectual Freedom

Support the CCBC
Support the CCBC
Are you a...K-12 TeacherLibrarianEarly Childhood Care ProviderUW Student / Faculty

A Step From Heaven

by An Na

Published by Front Street, 2001
156 pages
ISBN: 1-886910-58-8

Age 13 and older

As a small girl living in Korea, Young Ju Park leads a relatively carefree life, although she is often aware of the unhappiness of her father, mother, and her paternal grandmother. Young's four-year-old mind reasons that they are all unhappy because they are separated from her grandfather who has gone to live in heaven. When she and her parents board an airplane to fly across the sea, she assumes that they are going to heaven to join him. Instead she finds herself in the United States, an unfamiliar and unwelcoming place, with no grandfather to greet them and, worse, no grandmother she has stayed behind in Korea. They have come to America for the promise of a better life, Young's parents tell her. But her parents still seem unhappy in this new place, understandably so, since they're living with relatives and working at menial jobs. In the years that follow, even the birth of a cherished son and the purchase of their own home doesn't seem to make things better, as Young's father sinks deeper and deeper into alcoholism and depression. For Young, attending school where everyone speaks English and expects her to act like an American girl is challenging enough, but at home she's still expected to uphold Korean cultural values, something that gets harder for her to do as she grows older. An Na's stunning first novel adroitly depicts Young's development and growth from early childhood by showing the complexities of her world, screened through the mind of her character through time. We see Young, even as a small child, trying to piece things together on an intellectual as well as an emotional level. Her struggle to comprehend the difficulties of her family life movingly realizes itself in a mature understanding of her mother, which allows Young to take some courageous steps into the adult world. CCBC categories: Fiction for Young Adults. (KTH; April 30) 2001 Cooperative Children's Book Center

book cover
Book of the Week

In accordance with the UW-Madison Accessibility Policy, this site makes every effort to comply with the World Wide Web standards defined in the Federal Rehabilitation Act Section 508, specifically subsections 1194.22 and subsection 1194.31. If you need additional resources or have any questions or concerns about this site, please contact the site administrator for more information.
UW crest