Center for Children's Literature Blog

Children’s Book Committee – May 2022 Pick

Made in Korea
Written by Sarah Suk

Two Korean-American teens, each trying to balance family duty with their own ambitions, find themselves in a hostile entrepreneurial rivalry, complicated by their mutual attraction.

Our Young Reviewer Says:

“I thoroughly enjoyed Sarah Suk’s fictional novel, Made in Korea. The story is about two high school seniors, Valerie and Wes. Valerie, along with her cousin Charlie, runs V&C K-Beauty, their school’s most successful student-run business. All of her profits bring her closer to taking her grandmother on a trip to her dream city, Paris. But to Valerie, going to Paris would be more than just an adventure. It would also prove to her mother that her business wasn’t just a hobby, but an actual way to make money. Wes, the new kid in school, also starts selling K-beauty products from a popular boy-band. Determined to go to music school after graduation, even though his parents don’t agree, Wes sees this as an opportunity to help him pay for the school tuition. Wes and Valerie’s battle for best business rapidly escalates into an all-or-nothing bet that would crush the other person’s dreams.

Once I started reading, I couldn’t put the book down. I really liked how relatable the characters and their struggles were. I understood Valerie’s frustration with her mother for always comparing her to her sister and Wes’s desire to belong somewhere. I also liked how the author incorporated Korean food and culture into the story. It made the story more realistic and unique. There weren’t a lot of things that I disliked about the book. However, I wish that the author had wrapped up the stories of the side characters a little bit more. I was left wondering what happened to some of the less-important characters. Overall, this book was captivating, fun to read, and I would definitely recommend it.”

–Chloe L., age 13, New York City

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