I really wish this book had been around when I was in high school. Paula Yoo’s Good Enough is about a Korean-American high school student and her struggles with grades, her parents, music, a really cute trumpet player, her parents, college applications, SATs, her parents, her church youth group, and her parents. That was my life in high school (except I’m not Korean, and it was a saxophone player, not a trumpet player…also, he wasn’t that cute and turned out to be kind of a jerk, but that’s another story).
Patti Yoon, the book’s main character is pushed to be perfect, by her parents and herself. She is expected to get into every Ivy League school. Playing the violin is her hook, or what sets her apart from other applicants. But music is really more than just a hook to Patti; it is her passion. How will she reconcile her love of music with her parents’ desire that she be the “Perfect Korean Daughter” (which basically means that she will get straight A’s, score at least a 2300 on her SATs, be valedictorian, go to Harvard, Princeton, or Yale, and become a lawyer or doctor)?
As a former musician and long-time perfectionist, this book really spoke to me. It is often difficult to do everything your friends are doing when you’re always fighting to be the best at everything. I could relate to almost everything Patti went through. And this story is told in a very interesting way. Patti gives us tips on how to make Korean parents happy or unhappy, recipes that tell more about her life at home, SAT tips, and other random lists that give us a clear picture of Patti’s world. (And this stuff is often hilarious…especially the number of recipes involving Spam!)
I would highly recommend Good Enough for all the music geeks and smart kids out there (and I am including myself in those groups). I would also recommend this for people who make fun of or look down on the music geeks and smart kids. It could be a real eye-opener about how much pressure these people are under and how much they sacrifice to be the very best.