Monstrous: A Transracial Adoption Story

First Second. Jun. 2023. 272p. Tr $25.99. ISBN 9781250268792. pap. $17.99. ISBN 9781250268808.
Gr 8 Up–Korean American Myer recounts their childhood dealing with racism and questions about their sexuality in this graphic memoir. Myer (using she/her pronouns during the events of the narrative) and her older sister were both born in South Korea, but adopted as infants by a white couple who live in rural Maryland. While Myer’s sister seems to have an easier time with her peers, the author struggles from an early age. She finds a level of acceptance as a talented artist, but as an early fan of anime and cosplay, struggles to fit in at school, particularly in the face of blatant racism that goes ignored by the staff. Myer acts out often and has a long road to self-acceptance, but her loving parents support her interests, and she earns a hard-won redemption as she heads off to college. The illustrations are well done and contrast her everyday life with vividly colored manga-inspired art in her dream world. As the narration unfolds, the title and front cover will come into focus as her self-hatred builds. Teachers and librarians should put this book in the hands of youth to whom they know it could make a difference, given the unflinching truth found within the pages. The resources listed at the end are an additional bonus.
VERDICT For fans of Jarrett Krosoczka’s Hey, Kiddo and Robin Ha’s Almost American Girl, this coming-of-age memoir will appeal to youth who are struggling with their identity. This engaging graphic novel is a recommended purchase for all libraries.

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