Troublemaker by John Cho

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Troublemaker

Author: John Cho

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Korean MC and characters, Black side characters

Recommended For…: middle grade readers, historical fiction, LA riots, police brutality, 1990s

Publication Date: March 22, 2022

Genre: MG Historical Fiction

Age Relevance: 10+ (violence, racism, police brutality, gore, religion, vandalism, emotional abuse)

Explanation of Above: As a prelude I want to say that this book is not graphic at all, but I do want to address some of the things that are shown in the book in case parents are restricting what their children are reading. There is a lot of violence mentioned in this book including gun violence. Along with this are police brutality and vandalism, which is also shown in the book. There is one scene where our MC is in a physical fight with his friend and some slight gore is shown with blood. Racism is discussed a bit in the book and there are mentions to religion including prayer and church. There is also a scene where a parent yells at their child that they are the “biggest disappointment” which causes a little bit of emotional damage to the child.

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Pages: 224

Synopsis: 12-year-old Jordan feels like he can’t live up to the example his older sister set, or his parent’s expectations. When he returns home from school one day hoping to hide his suspension, Los Angeles has reached a turning point. In the wake of the acquittal of the police officers filmed beating Rodney King, as well as the shooting of a young black teen, Latasha Harlins by a Korean store owner, the country is at the precipice of confronting its racist past and present. 

As tensions escalate, Jordan’s father leaves to check on the family store, spurring Jordan and his friends to embark on a dangerous journey to come to his aide, and come to terms with the racism within and affecting their community.

Review: I really loved this book! I’m very excited that more books, especially younger set ones, are discussing police brutality and the issues around racism. The book is set in the 90s during the LA riots and I loved viewing the book through the eyes of a Korean child who is just trying to prove himself to his father. The book is NOT graphic at all and it does an excellent job at showing what happened to Koreatown during the LA riots through the perspective of a child. The book has well developed characters and the world building is also well done. The book is amazingly well detailed and if you were a fan of I’m Not Dying With You Tonight or The Black Kids, you’ll love this book.

The only issue I had with the book is that it’s a bit quick and short. I’d love to see more of the aftermath of what happened and how the community came back together afterward.

Verdict: It’s really well done! Highly recommend!

Book Info:

Troublemaker by John Cho

Genre: Middle Grade Historical

Publishing Date: March 22, 2022

Synopsis:

Troublemaker follows the events of the LA Riots through the eyes of 12-year-old Jordan as he navigates school and family. This book will highlight the unique Korean American perspective.

12-year-old Jordan feels like he can’t live up to the example his older sister set, or his parent’s expectations. When he returns home from school one day hoping to hide his suspension, Los Angeles has reached a turning point. In the wake of the acquittal of the police officers filmed beating Rodney King, as well as the shooting of a young black teen, Latasha Harlins by a Korean store owner, the country is at the precipice of confronting its racist past and present. 

As tensions escalate, Jordan’s father leaves to check on the family store, spurring Jordan and his friends to embark on a dangerous journey to come to his aide, and come to terms with the racism within and affecting their community. 

Book Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58340783-troublemaker

Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/0759554471/ref=x_gr_w_bb_sin?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_sin_ca-20&linkCode=as2&camp=15121&creative=330641#detailBullets_feature_div

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/troublemaker-john-cho/1139648072?ean=9780759554474

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Troublemaker-John-Cho/9780759554474?ref=grid-view&qid=1642712688024&sr=1-1

Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/troublemaker/9780759554474-item.html?ikwid=troublemaker&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=3#algoliaQueryId=9ef4ead5211d7e4bc132b6980583a44e

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780759554474

About the Author:

John Cho is known as Harold from Harold & Kumar, Hikaru Sulu from J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek, or as the star of the highly anticipated live-action Netflix series, Cowboy Bebop, based on the worldwide cult anime phenomenon (news of which “broke the Internet,” to quote Vanity Fair).  John is also a former 7th-grade English teacher who grew up as a Korean immigrant kid in Texas and East L.A. (among many other places). He is also now a proud father, with his Japanese-American wife Kerri, of two beautiful children — a 9-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old boy — who love to read.

Author Links:

Website: https://www.lbyr.com/contributor/john-cho/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/johnthecho?lang=en

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/johnthecho/?hl=en

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/640652.John_Cho

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