A Step from Heaven

A Step from Heaven

by An Na


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781481442367
Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Publication date: 07/26/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 160,047
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

An Na was born in Korea and grew up in San Diego, California. A former middle school English and history teacher, she is the critically acclaimed author of The Fold, Wait for Me, the National Book Award finalist and Printz Award–winning novel A Step from Heaven, and The Place Between Breaths. She lives in Vermont.

Read an Excerpt

A Step from Heaven

Sea Bubble

Just to the edge, Young Ju. Only your feet. Stay there.

Cold. Cold water. Oh. My toes are fish. Come here. Fast. Look.

What is it, Young Ju?

See my toes. See how they are swimming in the sea? Like fish.

Yes, they are little fat piggy fish.

Ahhh! Tickles.

Come on. Up. Keep your legs around me. Are you ready to go swim in the waves?

Hold me. Hold me.

I have you. Look over there, Young Ju. See how the waves dance. See? Hold on tight. We are going over there.

No. Stop. Deep water. Go back.

Shhh, Young Ju. Do not be afraid. You must learn how to be brave. See, I have you.

No. No. Go back.

Young Ju, can you be brave? Look, that is only a small wave. Do not worry. I will hold you tight the whole time. Can you try to be a brave girl for me?

I will try.

Good girl. Ready for the wave? Here it comes. Get ready. Up. And down. There, do you still want to go back?

Again. Do it again. Another one.

That is my courageous girl. Hold on to my neck, Young Ju. Here we go. Up. And down.

I am a sea bubble floating, floating in a dream. Bhop.

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Step from Heaven 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 51 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A Step from Heaven, written by An Na is a novel that provides the reader with vivid imagery through the eyes of little Korean girl named Young Ju. Young Ju and her family leave Korea in hopes of a better life in America. The author chronicles the reader through Young Ju¿s life allowing the reader to experience Young Ju growing from a four year old, to young girl, to a teenager, to a young lady. Through this journey, An Na does an exquisite job of adapting the voice of the Young Ju to fit the appropriate age. This book is beautifully written and is filled with important symbolism. It would be a perfect book to incorporate into an English class for a middle school or high school curriculum to teach the skill of recognizing symbolism or imagery. It also could be part of a social studies curriculum dealing customs of different countries or immigration. Young Ju is a strong young lady who is brave. She faces fear and hardship with a determined grace. She embarrassedly has a father who progressively becomes more alcoholic, abusive, and depressed as the novel progresses. Young readers who themselves might have a parent who struggles with alcoholism and all the demons that are associated with the disease, will relate to Young Ju and her family attempting to keep their dysfunctional family life a secret. The author also does a good job of showing that all characters are not ¿all good¿ or ¿all bad.¿ Young Ju¿s father, though abusive, is shown with having a caring side as well. Even though this book deals with the tough subject of abuse, it is also very light hearted funny at times. The reader will see how a Korean girl adapts to America as she struggles to learn the language and American customs. This a great book for teachers to add into their curriculum. It is recommended that the teachers read the book aloud to the students allowing them more easily to pick up on who is who in the book. The teacher reading the book aloud will also make it more easy to direct the students to the symbolism throughout the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Okay, so maybe in reading and rating this book I'm a little biased because I am Korean-American girl, but I thought that it was a good book. The ideas that An Na writes about are so true to Korean culture; the pressure to be perfect; the importance of family; the value of men over women; and dealing with two cultures. The phoenetic spelling of Korean words to English was awkward and I doubt if anyone without knowledge of the Korean language would be able to understand any of it i.e. 'harabugi' 'uhmma' 'apa' 'halmoni' 'uhn-nee' 'gomo' (I even had trouble trying to understand what the spelling was meant to mean in Korean) but I still think that anyone should read it. The book gives a little insight to the life of a Korean girl growing up in an American society.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I remember reading this book a few years ago and loving it. And I just got done re-reading it. Loving it more than the first time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Oops I mean Haraboji and Uh-nee
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had just finish reading this book and it was amazing. I wish that Uhmma wouldn't forgive Apa everytime he beats her. She has a choice to leave him. Young Ju is my favorite character. She is very intelligent and she shows love and care to her brother and mother. This book isn't really for kids but it's for young adults. I hhighly suggest that people should read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A deep, quiet book that gives insight into human nature and cultural awareness.
shifrack00 on LibraryThing 10 months ago
Felt like I was reading underwater. Fresh take on an immigrants' point of view, coming to America. Each chapter seemed like it's own story, and the action did not rise as much as float to a conclusion, that was not completely satisfying.
dahabdabbler on LibraryThing 10 months ago
I loved the language used in this book, especially how it matures as Young Ju matures. One of the first quotes to really strike me was:"It sits in my chest, hitting, hitting my heart until my eyes bleed water from the sea." And this quote was just a great illustration of the language used by immigrants who may not have a common language: "¿language of mixed and chopped Korean and Japanese, glued together with pieces of English." I also enjoyed the author's exploration of gender roles and how Young Ju questions, to herself, why she is responsible for so much while her younger brother plays. The differential treatment is only one aspect of her Korean culture that she learns to accept. This book is a powerful story that many people, not just Korean immigrants, may unfortunately be able to relate to. The issue of abuse is a depressing topic for a book, but the reality is that some students will find solace in knowing that they are not the only ones who this may happen to. Young Ju's and her mother's determination to make something of themselves, however, is a positive model for all students in tough situations. The value of education and church are important in many cultures, not just Korean, and by reading this many children will realize the similarities between cultures. This haunting book is intended for a more mature audience than I will probably work with, but I enjoyed reading this first novel by An Na; she is an author to watch for!
MrsDayClass on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Great, fun, suspenseful, short read.
ktextor on LibraryThing 11 months ago
This book is one of great strength and hardship. Young Ju is a girl who moves from Korea to the U.S. with her family. As she tries to learn how to become a young girl in America her father wants nothing but her to stay the way a good Korean girl should act and behave. Her mother works two jobs while the father looses his and begins drinking. Young Ju's brother begins disappearing throughout the night and no longer thinks school is important. Soon Young Ju's mother is being beat by her father and Young Ju has the chance to save her mother from what may be death. A very touching story and one that should be looked at to a girl who stands up for what is just.
JasmineW on LibraryThing 11 months ago
A Step from Heaven is a printz award winning book by An Na. Young Ju describes her life and experiences of moving to America. America is known as heaven to her. She speaks about the barriers with trying to learn english all the way until she grows up and goes to college. Will she learn English? Was moving to America a good thing? Did it help her get "closer to heaven?" You must read to see how it goes. The first idea I had to do with this book is for my students to research Korea. The students should find out about their culture, foods, clothing, language, music, etc. to compare with America. As a class, we will bring all our information together on a venn diagram. The venn diagram will be Korea's similarities and differences from America. We will discuss and come to the conclusion of how Young Ju had to adapt to "our" differences. The next idea will be for the students to write a persuasive paper 1-2 pages convincing Koreans to move to America. The student must include some of the information from our venn diagram. The students' should begin their paper with opening sentences of why America is a good place to move to. Next, include reason numbers 1-3 with 3 supporting details with each reason. Finally, conclude why America is a great place to move to. We will partner share our persuasive papers. At first being a book about a Korean girl really didn't interest me; however, she was speaking about her experience of moving to America, so I decided to read it. I thought the book was okay. I rate it 3 stars. I really didn't get into it until the very end. The girl's dad was an alcoholic, and he got very abusive towards the end. My mouth sort of dropped to what was happening. I was glad to know that Young Ju was soon going to college, and she had a scholarship, so she didn't have to worry about paying. Hopefully, her move to America was really "A Step Closer to Heaven." And, I think it was since she was able to get a good education here and go to college. I believe the book is good to share with middle school students, so they can understand emigration and how that process is for some students.
EuronerdLibrarian on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Didn't especially like the style of writing. Felt like the kind of book you get assigned in school.
shelf-employed on LibraryThing 11 months ago
In this contemporary realistic fiction tale, Young Ju emigrates with her parents from Korea to the United States in search of a better life. Young Ju struggles to adapt to her new country, starting school and learning a new language. Her life is further complicated by the arrival of a new brother, poverty, and an abusive alcoholic father. The story follows Young Ju from a very young girl to adulthood.Review:An Na¿s A Step From Heaven is a Young Adult title that will appeal to teens on many levels. The book is the 2002 Michael J. Printz Award winner for Young Adult Literature, and a finalist for the National Book Award. Fictional Young Ju tells the story of her early childhood in Korea, her emigration to the United States (Mi Gook), and her gradual acculturation to her new country. Much of the story takes place during her teen years, making it appealing to those readers. The setting is the California coast.The novel succeeds on several levels. It is at once multicultural, contemporary, and controversial. Young Ju is a Korean immigrant. None of her family speaks English upon arrival in the US. Although Young Ju, and her brother Joon (born after their immigration) grow up to speak English and learn American customs, her parents, Uhmma and Apa remain closer to their Korean upbringing. Young Ju is torn between the two worlds. When an American friend lends her a small amount of money, her Uhmma is appalled. Young Ju explains that in America ¿it is fine to borrow money from friends.¿ ¿Stop that, Uhmma says. We are Korean. Do not forget.¿ Korean words and the broken English of her parents and relatives are common throughout the book, adding to its authenticity.A Step from Heaven also reflects contemporary issues for teens. Young Ju is at times powerless, at times rebellious, like most teens. She cannot escape the poverty and violence of her home, yet she manages to rebel in small ways. In second grade, when she is jealous of the attention that her new brother receives, she crosses her fingers behind her back and tells her teacher, ¿My brother. He die.¿ She enjoys the flowers, gifts and attention she receives. When her mother asks why they have received flowers and a card expressing sympathy for ¿their loss,¿ Young Ju explains that she lost the spelling bee. Later, as a teen, Young Ju spends forbidden time with her American friend, Amanda. She lies and tells her Apa that she is at the library. She is embarrassed by her family¿s poor neighborhood and smoke-spewing station wagon.The story is also controversial. Young Ju¿s father, Apa, is an abusive alcoholic. Young Ju watches helplessly as her father sinks lower and lower into his vices, beating Uhmma,hitting, Young Ju, losing jobs, and staying out all night. An Na, however, ensures that Apa¿s strengths are shown as well as his weaknesses. He plays "monster" with Young Ju and Joon. He mourns the death of his mother. Young Ju recalls Apa teaching her to jump in the waves. The reader is allowed to draw his own conclusion about Apa.A Step From Heaven tells a story of hope and perseverance without being preachy. Her mother, Uhmma, is Young Ju's long-suffering supporter and ally, but in the story's climax, it is Young Ju who comes to her mother's aid. In the end, hopeful change occurs not only for Young Ju, but for her mother and brother as well. They rise above their circumstances and suceed in their new homeland, California, "a step from heaven."One annoying feature of the novel is the peculiar punctuation. The story is told as Young Ju¿s recollections, however, the use of quotation marks seems to be irregular. Sometimes direct quotes are within quotation marks, and sometimes they are not..Overall, A Step From Heaven is a powerful story about family life, coming of age, and one¿s inner power to overcome adversity. A great read for young adults.
Rennifred on LibraryThing 11 months ago
This is one of the most beautiful and poignant books I have read in any category. Although it is a young adult novel, anyone who loves to read would enjoy this book.The format for the novel is unusual. Each chapter is told from the viewpoint of the main character, from her earliest memory through her last day at home before leaving for college. Each chapter is like a short story, very tight and spare. Although there is no traditional narrative story, there are strong themes running through the book to give it forward momentum and a satisfying ending.
librarymediaman on LibraryThing 11 months ago
In this very intense story, the protagonist's abusive father gets worse and worse and begins to regularly beat her mother. The situation explodes when he finally turns his hand against his own daughter. But a poignant ending reminds the reader that even the abuser is a person with potential and value and the capacity to love.
emithomp on LibraryThing 11 months ago
At only 4, Young Ju immigrates to the US with her parents. Sad, hopeful, inspiring are all good ways to describe this book. It clearly shows how much work goes into moving to a new country and all the struggles that are part of that process. It is beautifully and meticulously written. The transliteration of what Young Ju hears before she learns English is especially interesting. The author keeps to Young Ju's point of view even when things start to go wrong, and it is very moving to hear the thoughts of a small child who does not fully understand what her parents are dealing with. It is even more striking as the character gets older and realization dawns.This lovely book is a good choice for any high school or public library, and would be very useful in a social studies unit on immigration.
joririchardson on LibraryThing 11 months ago
This is a very insightful portrayal of immigration to America through the innocent view of a child. It is based on the author's personal experience, which makes it very realistic. It's a short, easy to get through read. I found it interesting how the young girl found certain ordinary things, such as Coca Cola, very odd and magical.However, beyond an outsider's view on American culture, this book didn't actually have much of a plot or great characters. It's good, but not great.
bluemopitz on LibraryThing 11 months ago
I really enjoyed this book. Seeing immigration to America through the eyes of a little girl was very interesting. I especially liked the way she sounded out new words in English, "he says to call him Uhing Kel Thim," which we later see her understand as Uncle Tim. The tales of domestic abuse and gender stereotyping are saddening and it made me very happy when the mother found the strength to get away from the father. This could be used curricularly when teaching about immigration, the struggles of finding one's place in a new culture, or about domestic abuse and gender roles.
MsLangdon on LibraryThing 11 months ago
Part D MulticulturalNa, A. (2001). A step from heaven. Asheville, NC: Front Street.Young Ju and her family move from Korea to America when she is only four years old. Their family struggles with the adjustment of living in a new country and of speaking a new language. Her father and mother work multiple, low-paying, labor-intensive jobs that keep them really busy. Young Ju, as well as her brother, are expected to do well in school and learn, because that is their future. Throughout the novel, we see Young Ju begin to assimilate and adjust to the new culture as she grows. In addition to her acculturation, she must deal with the problems that come with an abusive, alcoholic father.The story has a slow beginning, but as the main character ages, there is a stronger pull to see what will happen next in her life. The language changes and becomes more clear as Young Ju learns English. The first few chapters have short, choppy sentences with many words in Korean and the later chapters have sentences that are more complex and clear with less words in Korean. This gives the reader a sense of connection and understanding to Young Ju¿s feelings as she adjusts to her new culture. An Na makes it easy to sympathize with the struggles of immigrants as they begin a new life in a new country, as well as being easy to sympathize with the struggles of living with an abusive father. Ages 9-12.
cassiusclay on LibraryThing 11 months ago
personal response: This is a very powerful story and I appreciate the no-holds barred truth that the story contains, but I didn't have an easy time reading some of the elements, such as the domestic abuse. I do appreciate the honesty and truth of it. This story crosses many cultural lines and is not simply limited to a Korean immigrant family. It is a great example of the qualities that natives of any country take for granted, and is especially relevant as a critique of the 'open-arms' of the US.grades 8 - 12curricular connections:Class reading and discussion
bethknee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is great. It's very honest and does a good job portraying the life of 2nd gen Korean kids.
ewyatt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book is written in a series of episodes in Young Ju's life as her family moves to America and tries to adjust to their new life. There are a lot of issues addressed in the book about the role of girls and boys in the culture, dealing with physical abuse, and what it is like to be an immigrant in America.
ithilwyn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved reading this book. An Na deals beautifully with the culture clash that develops within families of Asian immigrants.
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