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Good As Lily by Derek Kirk Kim & Jesse Hamm

July 11, 2007

Remember how we had our laundry list of things for Asian American books? Well Derek Kirk Kim has successfully fulfilled 4 out of 5 of my requests in Good As Lily.  To refresh our collective memory of what I was asking for here it is, again

Gayle would like a protagonist:

1. Who uses cultural references without qualifying them;

2. Who feels comfortable in his/her skin, hair, eyes;

3. Who is not ashamed of his/her parents;

4. Has real character flaws and not only those of stereotypes;

5. Is a librarian or aspires to be a librarian.

Granted #5 is probably a long shot, I’m impressed that DKK has effectively written a story that fulfills the rest of my wish list.  Props to Jesse Hamm for the great artwork too.  I’m going to have to lift my self imposed ban on DC to purchase Good As Lily for the library when it comes out in August.

The basic storyline follows our protagonist Grace Kwon as she celebrates her pivotal 18th birthday.  She buys a pinata from a mysterious ice cream vendor at the park and is disappointed to find out that the pinata has no candy inside of it.   She goes home only to realize that she has forgotten one of her birthday presents at the park.  Grace goes back to the park and finds more than what she is looking for.  She finds a 6 year old, a 29 year old, and a 80 year old all who go by the name Grace Kwon.  The Graces all come to the realization that they are one and the same person.  This cosmic sick joke plays itself out as the Graces make peace with their past experiences and regrets.  Why is this graphic novel entitled Good As Lily instead of Revenge of the Grace Kwons?  Read it to find out!

I’m passing the ARC to Jolene so she can weigh in on my review.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 19, 2007 3:32 am

    I liked it. I wanted more about Lily, due to the title and the ‘shadow’ she felt she was walking in, but I like time-travel plots so that’s what made me keep reading.

  2. Jolene permalink*
    July 26, 2007 3:30 pm

    Yeah #5 would be a little hard to come by since the protaganist was only 17. But hey maybe her 29 year old self “Shana” is a librarian and we don’t even know it. I enjoyed this novel throughly and like the fact that Grace’s parents were just regular parent’s without any “korean parental stereotypes.” However, I did have a hard time believing Grace’s old “self/Jessica” character. If she’s a teen sometime in the last decade would she still be watching Texas Walker Ranger and Antique Road Show? I know for sure when I get to be 70 I wouldn’t be watching those shows or drinking whiskey and smoking cigs. Granted, I would probably still have a copy of Pride and Prejudice (A&E version)on my shelf next to my “Charmed” collection.

  3. Jolene permalink*
    July 26, 2007 3:36 pm

    Oh yeah I agree with your question on the title Gayle. Lily was Grace’s sister’s name who died. But it’s kinda strange that Kim decided to name the book after Lily since Grace only mentions her sister once, and the loss of her sister is never mentioned again. Granted the pivotal moment is when she asks her parents if they had wished she died instead of Lily, but then again the scene is only like 2 pages long.I agree that the novel should’ve been called Revenge of the Grace Kwons or Finding the Real Grace Kwon.

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