Necessary Roughness – Marie Lee

Sixteen-year-old Chan Kim is less than pleased when he is told that his family will be leaving L.A. for Iron River, Minnesota. He will be leaving his friends, his girlfriend (who happens to be his twin sister’s best friend), his family’s shop, and everything he knows. Iron River is completely different from L.A. The biggest thing that’s happened to it was 10 years ago–State Football Champions. The Kims are the only Asian family around in the small town.

On the first day of school, Chan and his sister, Young, dislike it. They find the people to be less than friendly. Before long, Chan is recruited to try out for the football team. He ends up making the Varsity team. His father is less than thrilled.  A favorite saying of his being “Anyone can build muscle, but building brain is more difficult.”

Necessary Roughness was an engaging read. I finished it in a day which says a lot for me. As I was reading I realized that this was the first time I’d read a book about an Korean-American, or any Asian-American for that matter, but I had an idea what to expect. Strict parents. High expectations. Meaning of being Korean. I enjoyed reading it like I enjoyed watching Bend It Like Beckham.

Now my two negatives. First, about three-quarters of the way, the book takes an unexpected turn. I suspect the idea was to give the novel a deeper meaning, but sometimes less is more.  Second, I did not find the novel to be entirely credible. I can’t say much about this with spoiling something.

Still, it was a pleasure to read, and I also learned two new words: hotdish and weeg.

Marie Lee’s website


One Response to Necessary Roughness – Marie Lee

  1. Lauren says:

    Sorry you didn’t like it all that much. I don’t know if I’ve read a book about an asian-american….mmmm….


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