Troublemaker by John Cho
Genre: Middle Grade Historical
Publishing Date: March 22, 2022
Troublemaker follows the events of the LA Riots through the eyes of 12-year-old Jordan as he navigates school and family. This book will highlight the unique Korean American perspective.
12-year-old Jordan feels like he can’t live up to the example his older sister set, or his parent’s expectations. When he returns home from school one day hoping to hide his suspension, Los Angeles has reached a turning point. In the wake of the acquittal of the police officers filmed beating Rodney King, as well as the shooting of a young black teen, Latasha Harlins by a Korean store owner, the country is at the precipice of confronting its racist past and present.
As tensions escalate, Jordan’s father leaves to check on the family store, spurring Jordan and his friends to embark on a dangerous journey to come to his aide, and come to terms with the racism within and affecting their community.
About the Author:
John Cho is known as Harold from Harold & Kumar, Hikaru Sulu from J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek, or as the star of the highly anticipated live-action Netflix series, Cowboy Bebop, based on the worldwide cult anime phenomenon (news of which “broke the Internet,” to quote Vanity Fair). John is also a former 7th-grade English teacher who grew up as a Korean immigrant kid in Texas and East L.A. (among many other places). He is also now a proud father, with his Japanese-American wife Kerri, of two beautiful children — a 9-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old boy — who love to read.
There comes a time in the world of books that something appears from nowhere highlights an historical event but not seen through the normal eyes. Instead we see the LA Riots of 1992 through the eyes of 12 year old Jordan who is Korean.
This book had some guts having a main character under the age of 18 carrying an item which I 100 % believe that no other middle grade book would have done but in my view it was central to the story.
We all know why the LA Riots happened but I did not know of was the shooting of Latasha Harlins which was mentioned in the book by a Korean Shop Keeper. The book also highlighted that there was many kinds of racism. One scene which sticks out for me when a Police man stopped the two boys on what they were doing out late at night and instead of giving the riot act or worst but since they were good little asians then he had no trouble with them. This did horrify me but it cleverly showed the differences each culture felt.
Then you have the story of family and friendship. To Jordan's dad Jordan was a bit of a let down and why could he not be like his Sister Sarah and why was Jordan friends with Mike he was trouble. In fact these labelling of certain people made them feel of insignificance. I felt so much for Jordan all he wanted was for his father's acceptance and to get this he made dubious choices.
I do believe this is an important book which needs to be read by everyone whatever age they are. I am so glad I got a chance to read it and for all these reasons I have given Troublemaker 5 stars