Stand Up, Yumi Chung!

Kokila. Mar. 2020. 320p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780525554974.
Gr 3-6–Yumi Chung hates her prestigious prep school in L.A., but her Korean-immigrant parents think attendance there will increase her chances of admission to an Ivy League college and a better life. Yumi has no friends at Winston Preparatory Academy and feels she can never measure up to her parents’ expectations or the legacy of her perfect older sister, Yuri, who is in medical school. Her passion is comedy and her dream is to be a stand-up comic. Instead of letting her enjoy the summer between sixth and seventh grades, Yumi’s mother signs her up for a test prep course at a demanding hagwon so that she might win a scholarship to cover next year’s tuition. When Yumi wanders into a nearby comedy club to check out its summer comedy camp headed by her favorite YouTube comedian, the director assumes that she is a tardy camper named Kay Nakamura. Yumi doesn’t think staying will hurt anyone; but then she falls in love with the camp and makes some real friends. She decides to continue attending, impersonating Kay. The stress of juggling test prep, comedy camp, and helping out at her parents’ struggling restaurant takes its toll in ways that are both heartbreaking and hilarious. Yumi’s not the only one with secrets, though. Middle grade readers will find Yumi’s first-person narrative utterly appealing.
VERDICT Readers will root for Yumi even as they cringe at her choices in this refreshing novel. Highly recommended—every school has at least one Yumi!

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