I’m Ok is a heart warming book about the ways we erase ourselves to fit in, and the friendships we make in the process.
Ok Lee knows it’s his responsibility to help pay the bills. With his father gone and his mother working three jobs and still barely making ends meet, there’s really no other choice. If only he could win the cash prize at the school talent contest! But he can’t sing or dance, and has no magic up his sleeves, so he tries the next best thing: a hair braiding business.
It’s too bad the girls at school can’t pay him much, and he’s being befriended against his will by Mickey McDonald, the unusual girl with a larger-than-life personality. Who needs friends? They’d only distract from his mission, and Ok believes life is better on his own. Then there’s Asa Banks, the most popular boy in their grade, who’s got it out for Ok.
But when the pushy deacon at their Korean church starts wooing Ok’s mom, it’s the last straw. Ok has to come up with an exit strategy—fast.
I think I’m Ok‘s main strength is the character of Ok. I felt so bad for him because he’s trying so hard to be grown up. I felt a lot like that when I was younger. It’s hard with all that responsibility on your shoulders. At the same time, Ok erases his own feelings about his identity growing up in high school. And that’s something that really hit me hard about this book.
Ok has to learn how to let people in. He’s in that stage of high school where we aren’t sure what to say when we see bullying. I remember how I felt. I never knew what I was supposed to do. And that says a lot about this book. It’s about Ok’s life in this transition moment. Not to mention that his whole life feels like it’s at the peak of that moment.
His family, his friends, everything is changing. But, as I said earlier, what really hit me in the feelings was Ok’s erasure of his own identity and the ways we play to fit in. The comments we laugh off, the actions we perform, the way it feels like you are sanding yourself down to fit in.
Other things I liked about I’m Ok:
- it’s hard to have your single mom move on. I loved how Ok has to come to terms with it and the whole journey that their relationship takes
- Ok has to embrace his fear of failing. Man, I’m right there with you Ok.
- there’s a genuine honesty to these words and to the mistakes Ok makes
- there are no picture perfect people in this book and I loved that
- We make some mistakes and we have to make our way to forgiveness, transparency, and recovery
What’s your favorite middle grade book?
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