Pippa Park Raises Her Game

Fabled Films. Feb. 2020. 264p. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781944020262.
Gr 5-7–Korean American seventh-grader Pippa Park is a basketball star at her middle school in Victoria, MA, but she struggles with math and the demands of her older sister and guardian Mina. When she unexpectedly receives a scholarship to a prestigious private school, she is faced with new challenges: reinventing herself to fit in with her wealthy classmates, maintaining her grades to keep her scholarship, performing on the court to help secure a long-overdue win for the school, and working at Mina’s laundromat. Complicating things is her crush on the headmaster’s son and math tutor Elliot, whose strange behavior and mysterious household fascinate and unnerve her. Pippa also feels guilt for avoiding her best friend Buddy, fear over anonymous blog posts targeting her, and worry over her mother who has been in an auto accident in Korea. Ultimately, after some big mistakes, Pippa must find her own solutions and make things right. In this reimagining of Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations, familiar themes and predictability are offset by the depiction of Korean culture and language, which add texture and depth to the narrative. Readers will sympathize with this likable heroine as she struggles to succeed.
VERDICT An enjoyable read with a buoyant contemporary twist on an old classic. Recommended for young fans of modern retellings.

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