A Step from Heaven
Goodreads ratings
3.8 / 5

"A Step from Heaven" Summary

By An Na

young adult | 160 pages | Published in NaN

When Young Ju is four years old, she learns that her family is leaving their small fishing village in Korea to live in Mi Gook. Young Ju has heard enough about Mi Gook to be sure the place they are moving to is paradise, that she and her family are going to heaven.After flying through the sky for a long time, Young Ju finds out that Mi Gook is actually a regular earthly place called America. And it doesn't feel at all like heaven. A STEP FROM HEAVEN follows Young's life from the age of 4 all the way up until she is ready for college, as we watch her change from a hopeful girl into a hardened young adult.

ISBN_13:9780142500279

Estimated read time: 5 min read

One Sentence Summary

A young Korean girl navigates the challenges of immigrant life in America while grappling with her family's struggles and her own identity.

Introduction

"A Step from Heaven" by An Na is a compelling novel that delves into the life of a young Korean girl named Young Ju as she navigates the challenges of growing up in a new country. The book provides a poignant exploration of immigration, family dynamics, cultural identity, and the pursuit of the American dream. Through Young Ju's experiences, readers gain insight into the complexities of the immigrant experience and the resilience of the human spirit.

Brief Synopsis

Plot Overview and Setting

The story unfolds against the backdrop of South Korea and the United States, spanning Young Ju's childhood to her adolescence. The novel opens with Young Ju's family immigrating to the United States, hoping for a better life. However, they soon encounter numerous obstacles, including financial hardships and the struggle to adapt to a new culture.

Main Characters

CharacterDescription
Young JuThe protagonist, who experiences the challenges of immigration and cultural assimilation.
AppaYoung Ju's father, who faces difficulties providing for his family in a new country.
UmmaYoung Ju's mother, who grapples with her own dreams and aspirations amidst the family's challenges.
JoonYoung Ju's brother, who also grapples with the effects of immigration and the pursuit of the American dream.

Summary of Different Story Points Over Chapters

Chapter 1-3

Young Ju's family moves to the United States in search of a better life, but they face significant challenges as they settle into their new environment. Young Ju begins to experience the complexities of cultural assimilation and the pressures of academic success.

Chapter 4-6

As Young Ju grows older, she continues to grapple with the expectations placed upon her by her family and her struggle to find her own identity in a new country. She also witnesses the impact of her parents' strained relationship and the toll it takes on the family.

Chapter 7-9

Young Ju's journey into adolescence is marked by her increasing awareness of the sacrifices her family has made for her future. She faces the difficulties of balancing her Korean heritage with the American culture surrounding her.

Chapter 10-12

The challenges of adolescence and the pursuit of independence come to the forefront as Young Ju navigates relationships, academic pressures, and the desire to forge her own path in the face of familial expectations.

Main Events

  • Young Ju's family immigrates to the United States, facing financial struggles and cultural barriers.
  • Young Ju grapples with the pressures of academic success and cultural assimilation.
  • The strain on Young Ju's family becomes apparent as they confront the realities of their new life in America.
  • Young Ju navigates the complexities of adolescence and the pursuit of her own dreams while honoring her family's sacrifices.

Themes and Insights

Themes

  1. Immigration and Cultural Identity: The novel explores the challenges of immigration and the complexities of forging a cultural identity in a new country.
  2. Family Dynamics: The dynamics within Young Ju's family shed light on the impact of immigration on familial relationships and the sacrifices made for the next generation.
  3. Resilience and Adaptation: The resilience of the characters in the face of adversity and their ability to adapt to new circumstances are central themes in the book.
  4. The American Dream: The pursuit of the American dream and the realities that come with it are key themes that permeate the narrative.

Insights

The novel offers a poignant insight into the immigrant experience, shedding light on the emotional and psychological toll of adapting to a new culture while grappling with familial expectations and personal aspirations. Through Young Ju's journey, readers gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of cultural assimilation and the resilience of individuals in the face of adversity.

Reader's Takeaway

"A Step from Heaven" offers readers a poignant and thought-provoking exploration of the immigrant experience, cultural identity, and the pursuit of the American dream. Through the eyes of Young Ju, readers gain insight into the challenges faced by immigrant families and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

Conclusion

An Na's "A Step from Heaven" is a compelling and emotionally resonant novel that delves into the complexities of immigration, family dynamics, and cultural identity. Through the experiences of Young Ju, the book offers readers a poignant exploration of the immigrant experience and the pursuit of the American dream, providing valuable insights and a deeper understanding of the resilience of individuals in the face of adversity.

A Step from Heaven FAQ

  1. What is the main theme of 'A Step from Heaven'?

    The main theme of 'A Step from Heaven' revolves around the immigrant experience, family dynamics, and the struggle to find one's identity and belonging.

  2. Who is the author of 'A Step from Heaven'?

    The author of 'A Step from Heaven' is An Na.

  3. What is the setting of 'A Step from Heaven'?

    The setting of 'A Step from Heaven' is primarily in the United States, following the journey of a Korean immigrant family as they navigate their new life.

  4. What age group is 'A Step from Heaven' suitable for?

    A Step from Heaven is suitable for young adult readers and older, as it deals with complex themes and mature subject matter.

  5. Is 'A Step from Heaven' based on a true story?

    While 'A Step from Heaven' is a work of fiction, it draws on the author's own experiences as a Korean immigrant, lending authenticity to the story.