The author Rose Kent lives in New York. Kimchi & Calamari is her debut novel for young adults. Her inspiration for this novel, she says came 'wrapped in a blanket drinking a bottle of soy-milk'. She is referring to her son Connor who was adopted from Pusan in Korea.
Joseph Calderaro is a Korean boy who lives with his adopted Italian parents in America. He has just celebrated his fourteenth birthday. As a part of the Italian tradition he is presented with a gold chain and a pendant in the shape of a goat's horn. This is a 'corno' worn by Italian men to bring good luck and ward off the evil eye. Joseph refuses to wear it for obvious reasons. This infuriates his father and sets off his father's Mad Meter.
The main plot of the book begins when Joseph's class is given an essay to write. The assignment Tracing Your Past: A Heritage Essay leaves him bewildered. Joseph does not know much about his Korean ancestry and does not feel his Italian adopted family is the way to go.
However his first attempt is a fabrication based on a random search on the internet. Joseph is made to redo the assignment. This makes him think about himself and his birth parents and this sets him on a quest to discover more about himself. Joseph meets up with a couple of Korean families and learns a bit about himself. He calls himself an ethnic sandwich, Korean from the outside and Italian from the inside and sometimes vice versa.
A great debut novel by Rose Kent. Full of humour, expression and witticism, the book has its poignant moments. Joseph comes across as a very likable character, funny yet pensive. The book has subplots that tie in very nicely with the main story. Credit goes to the author for her delicate handling of the topic of adoption of Joseph and his age-related struggle for a sense of belonging and identity.
Just the book for intermediate or junior secondary levels on the topics of adoption and identity.
Reviewed by Janice Rodrigues
0800 LIB LINE
0800 542 5463
Get help from our advisers using this free phone line