Lia Park and the Missing Jewel

S. & S. Audio. (Lia Park). May 2022. 718p. Audio $17.99. ISBN 9781797149400.
Gr 3-7–Debut novelist Yoon absolutely deserved better than having her text disrespected by irresponsible producers who somehow still believe that being of a certain heritage must guarantee language fluency. Narrator Joy Osmanski, an ethnic Korean adopted at seven months to a white family, clearly doesn’t speak Korean, immediately obvious in the dedication when “Saranghae” sounds like “sarang-ghay”; her repeated mispronunciation of “Halmoni” (grandmother)—173 instances, according to a quick word search—is especially trying. While Osmanski undoubtedly captures 12-year-old Korean American Lia’s vibrant determination to save her kidnapped parents from an ancient malevolent spirit, that she stumbles so often on the Korean words and phrases liberally sprinkled throughout makes listening unnecessarily challenging. After a childhood of reading books without heroes who looked like her, “Lia Park is the hero I hungered for,” Yoon appends in her written acknowledgments.
VERDICT Choosy hero seekers will prefer the page.

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