Review by Booklist Review
When Grace Park's mother, Jung-Ja Han, is targeted in a drive-by shooting, Grace discovers the truth about her family's pivotal role in the 1992 L.A. riots. Amid growing tension between South Central's Asian shop owners and their African American customers, Grace's mother shot and killed Ava Matthews, a teenage girl Grace had accused of shoplifting and assault, despite the later discovery of only two dollars clutched in Ava's lifeless hand. Jung-Ja's light sentence and the Rodney King trial ignited rioting. Fleeing backlash, Jung-Ja changed her name to Yvonne Park and hid in the suburbs. Shawn, Ava's younger brother, has rebuilt his life after emerging from prison and leaving his fellow Crips gang members behind. Shawn's cousin Ray has finally been released from prison, too, and Shawn is optimistic about Ray's reunion with his community-activist mother, his wife, and the teenage twins Shawn has helped raise during Ray's absence. But the past won't go away, and Shawn and Ray face police scrutiny for Jung-Ja's shooting. In addition, Ray has been keeping secrets. As Grace and Shawn desperately try to hold their families together, community outrage over another teen's shooting places them and Ava's tragic death back in the media spotlight. A gripping, thoughtful portrayal of family loyalty, hard-won redemption, and the destructive force of racial injustice. Cha, author of the Juniper Song PI series, offers a strong contender for the summer's blockbuster read.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Cha is a rising star in crime fiction, and her latest, with its focus on racial injustice, may well be her breakout novel.--Christine Tran Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Based on a true case, Cha's ambitious tale of race, identity, and murder delivers on the promise of her Juniper Song mysteries (Dead Soon Enough, etc.). Racial tensions in Los Angeles are at a boiling point following the police shooting of a black teenager, and 27-year-old Grace Park, who lives with her Korean immigrant parents, shares the sense of outrage felt by many. Her sheltered world is suddenly shattered when her mother, Yvonne, is shot in front of the family pharmacy in a drive-by shooting. Dark family secrets begin to emerge about Yvonne's involvement in the notorious 1991 shooting of Ava Matthews, an unarmed young black woman, by a Korean shopkeeper. Grace is torn by conflicting emotions of concern for her mother and shame at the implications of her mother's crime. Meanwhile, Ava's brother, Shawn Matthews, has tried to put the past behind him. When news of Yvonne's attempted murder reaches him, it brings up emotions Shawn has long fought to keep down. The tension rises as the authorities circle in on his family as possible suspects in Yvonne's shooting. This timely, morally complex story could well be Cha's breakout novel. Agent: Ethan Bassoff, Lippincott Massie McQuilkin. (Oct.)
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Review by Library Journal Review
The story might sound familiar--the 1991 L.A. riots--but Cha ("Juniper Song" series) alchemizes headlines into a riveting thriller about two families colliding over injustice, while narrators Glenn Davis and Greta Jung transform the written word into mesmerizing performances. Shawn Matthews was just 13 when his sister Ava was fatally shot by a Korean storeowner. Almost three decades later, Grace Park holds her mother Yvonne's bleeding body after a drive-by shooting outside their family's pharmacy. The two tragedies, 28 years apart, will connect the Matthews and Park families again. While Yvonne lies comatose, Grace learns her mother was Ava Matthews's killer. The police are already questioning Shawn who, after a youthful jail stint, lives a contented, family-driven life. Reconnection, of course, will engender irreversible consequences. Comparative newbie Davis's portrayal of Shawn and his extended family is near flawless, effortlessly adapting from childhood innocence to jaded adulthood, toxic posturing to desperate loyalty. Sharing the Parks' Korean heritage, Jung moves easily among immigrant and second-generation characters, adjusting fluency and cadence, embodying contrasting personalities, most notably "good girl" Grace and savvy older sister Miriam. VERDICT An already astounding book gets an addicting audio adaptation, sure to inspire urgent reflection and crucial conversation.--Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
A real-life racial incident is transfigured into a riveting thriller about two families' heartbreaking struggles to confront and transcend rage and loss.It is the late summer of 2019, but no matter how many years have passed, Shawn Matthews, a black ex-convict now working for a Los Angeles moving company, is burdened by memories of the early spring of 1991, when his teenage sister Ava was shot to death by a Korean woman who mistakenly believed she was stealing from her convenience store. The shooting and the resulting trialin which the woman was convicted and received no jail time, after which she relocated to another part of LAfed into racial tensions already festering back then from the Rodney King trial. And the city's reactions to a present-day shooting death of an unarmed black teen by a police officer indicate that those racial animosities remain close to the boiling point. In the midst of the mounting furor, Grace Park, a young Korean woman, is shaken from her placid good nature by the sight of her mother being wounded in a drive-by shooting. "What if she is being punished?" her sister Miriam says, revealing a shocking fact about their mother's past that Grace hadn't known. An LAPD detective asks Shawn if he has an alibi for the drive-by (which he does). Nonetheless, the most recent shooting upends his fragile sense of security, and he starts to wonder where his cousin, Ray, himself just released from prison, was when Grace's mother was shot. Cha, author of the Juniper Song series of detective novels (Dead Soon Enough, 2015, etc.), brings what she knows about crafting noir-ish mysteries into this fictionalized treatment of the 1991 Latasha Harlins murder, blending a shrewd knowledge of cutting-edge media and its disruptive impact with a warm, astute sensitivity toward characters of diverse cultures weighed down by converging traumas.Cha's storytelling shows how fiction can delicately extract deeper revelations from daily headlines. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.