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Kimchi & Calamari: 12/14/11

cover art

Kimchi & Calamari by Rose Kent was on display at the library. The usual title is what caught my attention. It sounded like a strange food combination that my husband would like (Italian fried squid and Korean pickled cabbage). Turns out the book is about an adopted boy (of Korean heritage) growing up in an Italian-American family. Like Sunita Sen in Mitali Perkins's book, The Not-so-Star Spangled Life of Sunita Sen, Joseph Calderaro begins to question his place in the world when asked to do a report on his ancestors.

Instead of talking to his teacher to ask for clarification, Joseph over-reacts and decides he can't possibly write about his adopted families' history. He chooses to make up a fictional story for himself if he can't track down answers about his biological family.

While the details of adoptions of Korean children by Americans were interesting, as were the Italian superstitions, the different pieces didn't mesh for me. Throughout the book I thought about the many different adopted friends I have, many who are in situations like Joseph. Across the board, my friends, while interested in their biological roots, were just as proud of their adopted roots. They would have done reports on their adopted families. I can see the conflict, therefore, coming from a teacher not understanding their situation and making unreasonable demands.

Three stars.

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