What’s Eating Jackie Oh?

Crown. Apr. 2024. 336p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780593563410.
Gr 9 Up–Fifteen-year old Korean American teen Jackie Oh would rather work in the kitchen of Haraboji and Halmoni’s New York City diner than toil on the intense, Ivy-league plan that her parents have planned out. Her culinary creativity is fueled in part by watching popular cooking competition show Burn Off! with her grandparents and reinventing recipes. When a chance encounter at the diner leads to a successful audition for Burn Off! High School Edition, Jackie finally gets the chance to show the world (and her parents) her passion for cooking. Initial disappointing feedback from the judges puts Jackie on a path of self-exploration to wow the competition. Tackling serious issues while tantalizing the taste buds, Park offers readers a thought-provoking, character-driven novel that explores themes of identity, family, and racism. Jackie struggles with microaggressions, the rise in Asian hate since the COVID-19 pandemic, and the shame surrounding her brother’s stint in prison. The unpacking of the “model minority” concept through the lens of Jackie, her parents, and her grandparents is particularly illuminating. The conversational writing style is engaging and will hook readers who enjoy wry humor and first-person narratives. There is a dash of romance that is more distraction than addition to the plot. Korean words, phrases, and hangul with translations are consistently a part of Jackie’s interactions with her family, deepening the sense of place within the book. Appendices with recipes and culinary knowledge are included.
VERDICT Come for the culinary competition, stay for the incisive take on social issues. Recommended for all libraries.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing