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Stand Up, Yumi Chung!
Cover of Stand Up, Yumi Chung!
Stand Up, Yumi Chung!
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One lie snowballs into a full-blown double life in this irresistible story about an aspiring stand-up comedian.On the outside, Yumi Chung suffers from #shygirlproblems, a perm-gone-wrong, and kids...
One lie snowballs into a full-blown double life in this irresistible story about an aspiring stand-up comedian.On the outside, Yumi Chung suffers from #shygirlproblems, a perm-gone-wrong, and kids...
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Description-

  • One lie snowballs into a full-blown double life in this irresistible story about an aspiring stand-up comedian.
    On the outside, Yumi Chung suffers from #shygirlproblems, a perm-gone-wrong, and kids calling her "Yu-MEAT" because she smells like her family's Korean barbecue restaurant. On the inside, Yumi is ready for her Netflix stand-up special. Her notebook is filled with mortifying memories that she's reworked into comedy gold. All she needs is a stage and courage.
    Instead of spending the summer studying her favorite YouTube comedians, Yumi is enrolled in test-prep tutoring to qualify for a private school scholarship, which will help in a time of hardship at the restaurant. One day after class, Yumi stumbles on an opportunity that will change her life: a comedy camp for kids taught by one of her favorite YouTube stars. The only problem is that the instructor and all the students think she's a girl named Kay Nakamura—and Yumi doesn't correct them.
    As this case of mistaken identity unravels, Yumi must decide to stand up and reveal the truth or risk losing her dreams and disappointing everyone she cares about.

Excerpts-

  • From the book

    Chapter 1

    I should have known better than to think anyone would listen to me at the Korean beauty salon.

    “You want the perm?” asks the stylist in leather pants, running her fingers through my limp hair.

    “Uh, I—I was thinking,” I sputter, showing her my phone, “maybe you could give me something like this instead?”

    After scrolling through Pinterest for “hairstyle makeover” all week, I’ve settled on this sleek pixie cut. It’s definitely shorter than anything I’ve ever had before, but maybe that’s exactly what I need before seventh grade starts next month. A change. Something bold for the New Me.

    Mom emerges from the dressing room in a shiny black robe and plucks the phone from my hands in one swift motion.

    “Yumi, no.” She raises a generously penciled-in eyebrow. “Too short. You will look like a boy from BTS!”

    “Mom!” I grab my phone back, ignoring the three robed aunties (who aren’t really my aunties) laughing in the chairs next to me. “This is a really popular hairstyle these days.”

    “Let me see.” My stylist’s leather pants squeak as she bends over for a closer look. “No good. Your cheeks are too big for this cut.”

    I examine the picture again, noticing the model’s sunken cheeks for the first time. I steal a glance at myself in the mirror, subtly sucking in my face.

    Leather Pants scrunches my hair in her hands. “You need more volume.” She combs my hair forward, obscuring the sides of my face. “Covers your yeodeureum.”

    My Korean isn’t that fluent, but I know she’s talking about my acne.

    “She is right,” Mom says.

    My stomach twists. “Yeah, but I—I don’t know. That’s not the look I’m—”

    Without letting me finish, Leather Pants turns to Mom. “Perm?”

    “Yes, much better for her.” She nods her chin to confirm and spins her chair to join the gaggle of gossiping aunties. Before I can object, they’re back to swapping intel.

    “Did you hear that Kim moksa-nim from Hosanna Baptist is sending his son to Cornell?”

    “How about his other son? Tall lawyer?” Mom gives them a knowing glance. “He’s same age as my older daughter.”

    Oh brother, not this again.

    Meanwhile, a sharp chemical odor stings my nostrils as strands of my hair are twirled around spools attached to a giant octopus-like machine.

    So this is what disappointment smells like. Another perm. So much for the New Me.

    When my hair is completely rolled up, the perm machine and I are sent to the ventilated lounge for a half hour to marinate. Good thing I brought my new Super-Secret Comedy Notebook. I take it out from my bag and jot down something I’ve been thinking about.

     

    It's really frustrating that my parents compare me to their friends' kids.

    It's always "Why can't you play piano like Grace?" or "Why can't you speak Korean better like Joon?"

    The other day they were telling me, "Did you know that Minji got into Harvard?"

    I said, "Mom, give me a break. I'm only eleven years old!"

    Then she tells me, "Minji is nine!"

     

    Mom approaches, her head covered in enough aluminum foil to transmit radio waves to Mars. I immediately shove my notebook into my bag before she can scold me for “wasting time with that comedy nonsense.”

    She scoots the magazines off the chair next to me and sits....

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    December 15, 2019
    Eleven-year-old Yumi Chung doesn't have anyone to sit with at lunch, but she secretly harbors dreams of becoming a comedian. Shy + Asian + Girl = Comedian? Why, yes. Yes, it does. Winston Preparatory Academy is a shy person's nightmare. Yumi hides from the beautiful girls and the bullies who call her "Yu-meat" because she smells like her parents' Korean barbecue restaurant. This summer, her parents are demanding that she go to Korean summer school, or hagwon, to get a near-perfect score on the high school entrance exam--because that is the only way to attend an elite college, like her superachiever sister, a 20-year-old med student. Yumi collects all of her fears and frustrations (and jokes) in her Super-Secret Comedy Notebook. When a case of mistaken identity allows her to attend a comedy camp taught by her YouTube idol, Yumi is too panicked to correct the problem--and then it spirals out of control. With wonderful supporting characters, strong pacing, and entertaining comedy bits, debut author Kim has woven a pop song of immigrant struggle colliding with comedy and Korean barbecue. With their feet in two different cultures, readers listen in on honest conversations, full of halting English and unspoken truths painting a realistic picture of 21st-century first-generation Americans--at least a Korean version. By becoming someone else, Yumi learns more about herself and her family in an authentic and hilarious way. Readers will cheer the birth of this comedian. (Fiction. 9-12)

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    January 1, 2020

    Gr 3-6-Yumi Chung hates her prestigious prep school in L.A., but her Korean-immigrant parents think attendance there will increase her chances of admission to an Ivy League college and a better life. Yumi has no friends at Winston Preparatory Academy and feels she can never measure up to her parents' expectations or the legacy of her perfect older sister, Yuri, who is in medical school. Her passion is comedy and her dream is to be a stand-up comic. Instead of letting her enjoy the summer between sixth and seventh grades, Yumi's mother signs her up for a test prep course at a demanding hagwon so that she might win a scholarship to cover next year's tuition. When Yumi wanders into a nearby comedy club to check out its summer comedy camp headed by her favorite YouTube comedian, the director assumes that she is a tardy camper named Kay Nakamura. Yumi doesn't think staying will hurt anyone; but then she falls in love with the camp and makes some real friends. She decides to continue attending, impersonating Kay. The stress of juggling test prep, comedy camp, and helping out at her parents' struggling restaurant takes its toll in ways that are both heartbreaking and hilarious. Yumi's not the only one with secrets, though. Middle grade readers will find Yumi's first-person narrative utterly appealing. VERDICT Readers will root for Yumi even as they cringe at her choices in this refreshing novel. Highly recommended-every school has at least one Yumi!-Brenda Kahn, Tenakill Middle School, Closter, NJ

    Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 3, 2020
    In Kim’s well-paced debut, 11-year-old aspiring comic Yumi Chung struggles between her dreams and her Korean parents’ wishes. Shy Yumi is frustrated when her mother enrolls her in test-prep tutoring to qualify for an academic scholarship at prestigious Winston Academy. But when Yumi accidentally assumes an absent camper’s identity at YouTuber Jasmine Jasper’s comedy camp, her summer suddenly seems promising. What follows is a balancing act of making new friends and sustaining parental expectations amid looming worries about Yumi’s older sister, Yuri, and the financial state of the Chungs’ restaurant. Amid fresh-feeling comic framing and contemporary conflicts about gentrification and community involvement, the narrative employs several elements that will be familiar to readers of similar titles—Yumi’s strict immigrant parents compare her to other kids and expect good grades, genius Yuri is in medical school, and there’s a lack of clear intergenerational communication. Yumi’s friends and heroes are diverse, which feels genuine to the Los Angeles setting, and her gradual journey toward self-confidence will resonate with anyone who has had shy or awkward stages. Interspersed with entries from Yumi’s Super-Secret Comedy Notebook, the engaging first-person narrative is a good first step into a rich landscape of reads about first-generation immigrant experiences. Ages 9–12. Agent: Thao Le, Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from December 15, 2019
    Grades 4-7 *Starred Review* Yumi, 11, has plenty on her plate. She helps out at her parents' restaurant in L.A.'s Koreatown, she's taking prep classes to win a scholarship her private school offers, and almost every moment involves living up to her parents' high expectations. Yumi's passion, however, is comedy, and when she accidentally finds herself in a kids' comedy class?taught by her YouTube idol, no less?she decides to take full advantage. This, of course, leads to a web of lies from which Yumi tries to untangle herself with varying degrees of effort. Author Kim is juggling a lot here, but she does so with aplomb. Along with Yumi's comedy joys and woes (one of her jokes is that she's a zoo animal now because she's a "lion cheetah"), she's dealing with the family restaurant's slow demise, her older sister's anxieties, and her desire to leave prep school for a new public school centered on the arts. Kim has taught school, and it shows, both with the spot-on dialogue and the up-to-date social media references. She also offers readers solid suggestions on building self-esteem. This will certainly remind readers of Kelly Yang's Front Desk (2018), but instead of a deus ex machina solving the family's problem, Yumi does it herself.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

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