Koko Be Good

Koko Be Good

by Jen Wang


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Koko's always got a new project cooking, even though they usually end in total disaster. This time will be different, Koko promises herself. This time, she's decided to Be Good. But how can a girl whose greatest talent is causing trouble get her act cleaned up? If she's being honest with herself, Koko isn't even sure what "being good" means.

Jon knows what being good means, and that's why he's going to Peru to support his girlfriend's humanitarian mission. That's good, all right, but is it what he wants? Jon has a promising future as a musician. Is he ready to give that up—maybe forever?

Two very different people, both struggling for direction, find their way into each other's lives in Jen Wang's first graphic novel. Honest, wrenching, and incredibly funny, Koko Be Good is a tour-de-force debut about human nature and the inhuman efforts we make to find ourselves.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781596435551
Publisher: First Second
Publication date: 09/14/2010
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 8.76(w) x 11.08(h) x 0.95(d)
Age Range: 16 - 18 Years

About the Author

Jen Wang grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, where she lives today. She enjoys nature shows, biking, libraries, and something new all the time. She has also lived in Portland, Oregon, and Taiwan.

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

1. A main theme in Koko Be Good is the question of what it means to be a good person. What do you think makes someone a good person? Do actions and intentions matter equally?

2. What do you think about Koko's strategies for becoming good? Why don't any of them work for her?

3. At the beginning of the book, Koko seems to have sacrificed all sorts of positive social attributes (responsibility, concern for others' feelings, etc.) for a pure expression of self. To what extent does she maintain or reflect this at the end of the book?

4. What do you think of The Ballad of Faron Lau (pg. 155)? How does it change your opinion of Faron's character? Does the different format of this section make sense for Faron's character? Why or why not?

5. "I'm going to live for the world!" says Koko. Do you think she does a good job of living for the world? What does ‘living for the world' mean?

6. What do you think about Jon and Emily's relationship? Do you think their decision to separate was the right one for both of them?

7. Koko Be Good was painted in a limited palette of watercolors. How does the way the art of this story looks affect the way you think about the characters and the setting?

8. Jon, Koko, and Faron are all searching for some direction for their lives. Do you think that search for the best path through life is common to all people in their twenties in the United States? How is the situation for twenty-somethings different than say, fifty or a hundred years ago?

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Koko Be Good 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
kivarson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What do we live for? Beauty? Truth? Making the world a better place? What does it mean to live a good life--making others happy, or ourselves? Is this an either/or proposition?After having stolen and reluctantly returned his Walkman tape player, free-spirited, street urchin Koko latches onto Jon, a recent college grad who is about to embark on a new life with his older girlfriend as a teacher in a Peruvian orphanage. His selflessness humbles and inspires Koko, but each attempt she makes at bettering herself (especially volunteering in a nursing home) ends more disastrously than the next.Jen Wang's beautiful sepia-toned panels illustrate the urgent energy and profound sadness involved in growing up. What is so amazing about this book is that Jon and Koko bond deeply and that this bond is platonic--it is a rare novel that explores the value of friendship between men and women.
zzshupinga on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a classic coming of age tale for two different character, our titular character Koko and a young man named Jon. Jon is giving up on dreams and hopes of his own to be with his girlfriend in a place that he doesn't know, a language he doesn't speak, and unsure of what he'll do once he's there. While out one night Jon meets Koko, a young woman still trying to figure out her place in the world. Their lives intersect, accidentally as is so often the case, and lead each other down new paths. They reconnect with old dreams and discover new ones that lead them towards an unknown future.The artwork in this novel is fantastic. Jen Wang is a talented artist that brings a simple style and limited color palette to the table and creates an evocative mood throughout the storyline. Many of the characters are simply drawn, yet they have a richness and fullness to the lives they live on the pages. Jen captures the spontaneity of life and the free movement of the human body that we often see in the real world in just a few lines. Where the work falters for me is the flow of the storyline. Its rough in some transitions and a couple of the characters are introduced but never really have their places defined. Overall though this is a strong work first work for a new published author (her first solo piece.) I look forward to seeing what she creates next and enjoying her art for many years to come.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I picked this up on a whim in the store; it was the art style that drew me in. I took it home and finished in one sitting. The characters are cute and personable, I couldn't put it down. I just home this becomes a series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago