From School Library Journal
Grade 4-7–Joseph Calderaro is facing many woes typical of a 14-year-old boy. However, trouble with girls, school, his younger twin sisters, and his parents is complicated by his growing awareness of the gulf between his Korean ethnicity and the Italian heritage of his adoptive family, especially his father. A school assignment is the catalyst for his search for information about his birth family. Communication between father and son reaches a low point when Joseph refuses to wear his birthday present of a corno
(golden horn), proudly worn by Italian men to ward off the malocchio
. His father insists that Joseph became Italian the day he was adopted. This lack of sensitivity is presented sympathetically, as the Calderaros can only focus on the joy of their bonding. The boy's status as a well-liked student and honest guy is jeopardized when he claims a famous Korean marathoner as his grandfather. A subplot involves an immigrant family from Korea, the Hans. Joseph's parents eventually appreciate his search for his identity, and they reach out to the Hans to help him learn about his culture. Kent has done an excellent job of creating a likable protagonist whose confusion about his status is touching, and also funny. This is one of the best of the recent spate of books about adolescent adoptees facing quests to establish their identities.–Deborah Vose, Highlands Elementary School, Braintree, MA
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Fourteen-year-old Korean adoptee Joseph Calderaro is stumped when his social studies teacher assigns an ancestry essay. Joseph knows very little about his background (and his parents are not very forthcoming with details), so he pretends that Olympic marathoner Sohn Kee Chung was his grandfather, and creates an award-winning essay to that effect. Once his lie is unmasked, however, Joseph must redo the assignment, which prompts him to begin a committed search for his birth family. Kent's debut novel humorously captures the feelings of a young teen who thoroughly enjoys his Italian-American family but still wonders about his birth parents and the circumstances that led to his abandonment. His search ultimately leads him to a young woman who may be his cousin. Subplots involving Joseph's younger sisters, crushes on several girls in his class, and a new Korean friend round out the action and keep the story light. This will have special appeal for adoptees, but the questions about family roots that Kent raises are universal. Kay WeismanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved