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Refreshing and Realistic: A Review of Since You Asked... by Maurene Goo

Since You Asked - Maurene Goo

So I know a total of six "Asian" books, four of them being high fantasies and one being a dystopia. And as much as I love reading action scenes about those sword-slinging, dragon-slaying warriors of death, I can't say I find a ton of humor in or am able to relate to them. SINCE YOU ASKED... though, is not only a book that had characters I could relate to, but also a book that made me laugh!

Holly is not only a character that almost every teenager can relate to, but also one that was hilarious, felt authentic and that I admired. Like almost any teenager, she faces your everyday high schooler problems - bullying, hard tests, stupid people, popularity and, of course, parents. However, I especially really liked how Holly handled these problems. Personally, I'm not the most outspoken person, so I really admired Holly's ability to express her opinions freely. Whenever she had a problem with someone's treatment of her, or with whatever issue it is in high school, she never hesitated to tell everyone. And, of course, she'd do it in a way that might be full of snark, but still entertaining.

It was also a plus that Holly was, well, oriental Asian. I'm not Korean, but a lot of stereotypes and expectations that oriental Asians face are the same, so I felt like I totally understood what Holly was going through. Mainly, there's that Holly has to balance her need to live peacefully alongside her Korean family with her desires to become a normal "American" girl. There's also that Holly has to decide between making her parents proud, or following her own literature or liberal art related passions. They're both struggles that I, luckily, don't have to deal with as much as Holly, but were, in my opinion, well portrayed and definitely realistic. 

As for the plot, it probably won't appeal to everybody, but I ended up really liking it! It's not focused on a romance, or even family problems, but more as a phase in Holly's life. And maybe not even a life changing one. But somehow, I ended up liking it that way. I think it was Holly's best friend, David, who said that people expect huge things to happen on the last day of school. Well, really, it might be the whole school year that people expect huge things to happen. Obviously life changing events don't happen all year long, though. So instead, I think the novel really focuses on depicting how Holly reacts to different situations challenging her culture and identity, as well as her satirical views on normal high school traditions, like Homecoming.

The same is true for the ending. I was looking at the book's GR page a few days ago, and some readers commented that the ending was too open ended. Again, it's not the type of ending you typically see in a lot of YA contemporaries, and one that might not appeal to anyone. But realistically, that's how life happens - it doesn't tie up nicely. Which is, strangely, how I liked it.

In a market saturated with the seemingly same, cutesy and short plot in each and every story, SINCE YOU ASKED... stands out in that it's 100% realistic and contains some pretty refreshing views on high school, culture, and sometimes even life itself. I'd say if you're looking for a short contemporary read that's just different, you should definitely try this out - Holly's voice and columns are unique, entertaining and absolutely hilarious!

* A copy of the novel was provided for the blog tour. This did not affect my opinion of the book – this review expresses my honest opinions