Skip to main content

Fusion Story: Girls for Breakfast by David Yoo

This was originally posted at Into the Wardrobe on June 6, 2008.

David Yoo's Girls for Breakfast was hard for me to read. Not because it's a bad novel. It's a good novel. It's funny and well written. But I think it's also sad. In fact, Girls for Breakfast depressed me.

Korean American Nick Park moves to Renfield, Connecticut just in time for the third grade. He is the new kid in Crying Stream Elementary - all the other kids know each other already - and the only Asian student. He has absolutely no friends for almost a year and I think this traumatizes him for life. Nick becomes obsessed with fitting in and being accepted.

Nick lies to get his peers to start paying attention to him. He tells Will, Mitch, and Paul, three other boys in his grade, that he is a kung fu master and they beg him to teach them kung fu. Nick teaches Will, Mitch, and Paul martial arts moves he makes up and becomes friends with them. He even starts believing that he is a true kung fu master and starts giving "kung fu lessons" to other kids in his school.

In the third grade Nick discovers girls. Then all throughout elementary school, middle school, and high school he is obsessed with the opposite sex. There are times Nick has a chance to be in a romantic relationship, but he always screws things up with the girl big time. Like the time in the eight grade when Paige Cooper wants him to be her date for Class Nite. He finds out she wants to be his date three weeks before Class Nite, but he tries to ask her out less than thirty minutes before Class Nite begins. Of course by the time Nick calls Paige's house she has already left for the dance. Or the time he went out on a date with Sam Foley during his sophomore year in high school but afterwards Sam hates him for lying and telling his friends that he got to third base with her. Nick is crazy about girls, but even more concerned about his popularity - or lack thereof. He cares more about being popular than about forming real connections with his peers. Still, he messes up all his efforts to become popular.

Nick is a banana, "yellow on the outside, white on the inside." He thinks it is his Asian heritage that is keeping him from becoming popular and from "scoring with the girls." He wants to be just like everyone else in his 99.9 percent white school. He doesn't like eating Korean food. He can't stand other Korean guys. He finds Korean girls unattractive. He refuses to go to a Korean church or hang out with other Koreans his age. He hates all things Asian. He is even embarrassed by other Asians and doesn't know how to react when he sees another Asian. Nick's parents and other Koreans find Nick "too white," while his classmates find him "too Asian."

Girls for Breakfast was painful for me. It's about being lonely and desperate to be cool. It's about being different and confused about one's identity. Nick was annoyingly insecure and immature, and a very real, complex, and believable main character. Girls for Breakfast was able to elicit a lot of emotional reponses from me. I could literally feel Nick's loneliness, confusion, and misery while reading and I was reminded of my own awkward and painful adolescence.


About the Author: David Yoo is the author of the novels GIRLS FOR BREAKFAST, which was named a NYPL Best Book for Teens and a Booksense Pick, and the forthcoming STOP ME IF YOU'VE HEARD THIS ONE BEFORE (Hyperion, Sept. 2008). He has published fiction and nonfiction in several anthologies, most recently in WHO CAN SAVE US NOW? (The Free Press, 2008) and GUYS WRITE FOR GUYS READ (Viking). David teaches adult fiction workshops at the Gotham Writers Workshop and writes a monthly column in Koream Journal. To learn more about him, visit www.daveyoo.com.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ako'y Isang Mabuting Pilipino (I Am A Good Filipino) by Noel Cabangon and Jomike Tejido

This one is a real crowd pleaser: Ako'y Isang Mabuting Pilipino , Lampara Books ' 2012 picture book adaptation of Noel Cabangon 's song, with Cabangon's original Filipino lyrics, functional English translations by Becky Bravo , and illustrations by Jomike Tejido ! Cabangon's inspiring lyrics remind children of the ways they can be good Filipinos, such as doing their best in school and obeying their parents. There are plenty of reminders for adults too, such as following traffic rules and not selling their votes during elections. Tejido's illustrations are warm and wholesome, acrylic paintings on hand-woven mats that depict different ways to be good citizens.    You just can't go wrong with Ako'y Isang Mabuting Pilipino ! Children and adults will understand and appreciate the lyrics and paintings. The chords of the song are provided, so music lovers can play and sing along. There are notes and guide questions for educators. There is even

1st Philippine National Children's Book Awards

Yesterday was the announcement of the winners of the very first Philippine National Children's Book Awards (NCBA). The awards are for the very best children's and young adult books published in the Philippines (2008-2009). There are no categories and no rankings for the NCBA. And the NCBA does not only evaluate the text of the nominated books. Illustrations, book design, and even the materials used in printing and binding the books are evaluated when choosing the "best reads" for young people in the Philippines! I was a judge for the awards (yes, this is me revealing my sooper sekrit project!) and I am very proud to now share with you the six winners of the first NCBA. Below are the winners' covers and the judges' comments on the books. Araw sa Palengke ( Market Day ) Written by May Tobias-Papa Illustrated by Isabel Roxas Adarna, 2008 (In Filipino, with English translations) "Listen well," her mother tells her. "Hold on to me tightly, ha?

Author Interview: Mae Respicio

Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! How are you all celebrating? As part of my celebration, I'm sharing my chat with author Mae Respicio . Her middle grade novel The House That Lou Built (Wendy Lamb Books, 2018) is about Lou Bulosan-Nelson and her dream to build a tiny house (only 100 square feet!) all on her own and on land that she inherited from her father. This Filipino American coming-of-age story is the recipient of the Asian Pacific American Library Association (APALA) 2019 Honor Award in Children’s Literature . Keep reading to discover more about Mae and the book! Congratulations, Mae! What inspired you to write The House That Lou Built ? There were many things that inspired this book such as my love of building, my desire to write a strong girl at the center of a coming-of-age adventure, and wanting to write a book set in the Bay Area! Although above any of these things what kept me inspired throughout the (sometimes grueling!) writin