An Almost American Girl by Robin Ha

An Almost American Girl is another Read Harder find, this time for task 4, a graphic memoir that just came out in January. It’s about Ha’s move to the US as a teenager. Realizing the book was about someone not born in the US actually made me like the title so much better. I grew up with stories of family members of different ages moving here in the wake of Castro taking over Cuba. There are a lot of elements to their experience echoed within Ha’s memoir.

The commentary on American culture in Alabama crack me up a little, having lived just a state over in Mississippi. It can be fun to see the stereotypes of my own country thrown into a story like this, like the size of everything and the reaction of people from different countries to American food. I can wish or hope forever that we’ll become a healthier nation one day, but I don’t think we’ll ever get rid of the greasy burger eating stereotype. It’s important to note, too, that this is about the mid-90’s when people weren’t as appreciated of each other’s niche interests. The internet had yet to blow up that everyone geeks out something and help us find our tribes, even when they live in other time zones.

I love the artwork. It’s bright and colorful with great detail. Here general style of art and choices for progressing the story were beautiful. It’s the little things like a flashback tone along with the imagery from her internal monologues. Ha keeps it fun and uplifting, though this definitely a low point in her life. Most of all, I love the way she depicts her mother.

Her mother is an amazing woman who appears to always have been doing her best, even when attempting to endure her own struggles for the benefit of the people in her life. I don’t want to give anything away about her mother and what she goes through or does, though. I just really respect her as both a mom and a feminist in surprisingly different ways.

If you’re still looking for your graphic memoir, I recommend An Almost American Girl, especially if you enjoy stories about people finding their way in the world. If this one doesn’t suit your interest, Relish and Persepolis and Fun Home are also good options. I looked up Robin Ha to see what other comics she’s done and though she’s been a part of some other collections, her only other singular work is a cookbook called Cook Korean! and I look forward to getting my hands on that one too. That sounds like a great way to experience a cookbook, to be honest. Especially one of foods that I’ve probably never tried or rarely had. Add An Almost American Girl to your Goodreads or Litsy TBR!

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