Jung, Mike. Unidentified Suburban Object
April 26th 2016 by Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Chloe Cho isn't wild about being the only Asian student at her school, but she HATES that people can't tell that she's Korean and assume that she is Chinese. She's love to know more about her Korean family background, and tries cooking "authentic" food with her best friend, Shelley. When she asks her parents about anything to do with her heritage, however, they refuse to talk about it, saying that it's something they would rather not think about, and besides, wouldn't Chloe rather have pizza? When Chloe gets a new teacher, Ms. Lee, she is glad to be able to talk to someone who knows about Korean culture, especially when she and best friend Shelley fall out. What Chloe doesn't expect is that her parents' reluctance to talk about their background is much more complicated than she could ever have imagined!
One of the frequent topics of discussion about #WeNeedDiverseBooks is how little speculative fiction has diverse characters. Yes, this book takes quite a turn in the middle and is definitely science fiction, in the way that Sylvia Waugh's Ormingat Trilogy is! I don't want to spoil it any more than that, but it turns out to be a great twist.
Aside from that, Chloe's determination to do well at the violin, to remain friends with Shelley, and to find out about her background is the real center of this story. The best middle grade fiction has identity at its core, and Unidentified Suburban object does this beautifully.
Read my interview with Mike Jung at School Library Journal's BeTween feature.