A Step From Heaven

Na, An

Kyleigh Fleeger

March 4th 2014


A Step From Heaven

An Na

Young Ju

Young Ju is a very intelligent, strong, and determined person. Although she doesn't like change all that well, she learns to adapt to it. Young Ju is taking to life in America fine, but her abusive father isn't. She has short, black hair, brown eyes, and is very tall. She is very open to new things. She makes friends easily and gets along with other people just fine.


Joon is Young's little brother. Once he is born his parents, Apa and Uhmma, think he will grow up to be an important person. Although he doesn't grow up to be president or anything, he holds his own in taking care of the family when Apa runs off. He went through a phase where all he cared about was his friends, not school, and they would often skip school to go out and do drugs and get drunk. Once Joon got his life back on track, he does a good job with helping out Young.


At the beginning of the book, Apa was just fine. He cared about his kids and wife and provided a good life for them. Once they got to America, everything changed. Once they left Halmoni, his mother, he soon finds out she died. He becomes very abusive towards his family. He would rarely come home but when he did, he reeked of alcohol. He often abused Young Ju and Joon and tried to kill their mother. He basically goes crazy about halfway through the book.


Uhmma is Young and Joon's mother. She loves them even when Apa doesn't and she cares about them. When Apa got angry, and tried to kill her, she left Young Ju and Joon for a while. She didn't come home for a couple years. When she rarely came home to eat, she showed them she cared. She was even loving after everything that had happened.


Halmoni was Young Ju's very caring grandmother. Joon never knew her because he wasn't born yet when they left Korea. She loves her family very much and wants the best for them. When they moved to America, she stepped back and let them go. She knew she was in bad condition and wasn't going to live a lot longer. She was the only person that Young Ju ever had a personal connection with. She loved her Halmoni very much and was sad when they left her.


At the beginning of the book, Young Ju, Uhmma, Apa, and Halmomi all lived in a nice small home in a little village. There was fresh cut grass and their house was nice and clean. When Apa decides they should move to America to start a new life, they do not bring Halmoni with them. In America, they settle in a place in California and their house is a run down two story apartment that smelled of alcohol and cigarets. Towards the end of the book, they move into a nice house finally and, just like the one they used to live in in Korea.


In A Step From Heaven Young Ju's family gets turned around in a way she never expected.

When Young Ju was about 4, her family let her know they were leaving Korea to go to America because it provides a better life. The only bad thing about that was they had to leave her best friend behind, her grandmother Halmoni.

When her family would talk about how amazing America was, she thought they were going to Heaven to be with God! Since she was so little she didn't know any better.
When they arrived, she realized it wasn't Heaven. They could only afford to live in a two story apartment with a gross yard and the house smelled of alcohol. She didnt understand what was happening and she wanted to go back to Halmoni so much. To add to her new life in America, she just got a new baby brother, Joon.

Once she was a little older, she started going to public school with Joon. She was very devoted to her studies and wanted to make her family proud. Now she was ten and remembers so little from Korea, even Halmoni.

Apa, her father, was devastated when Halmoni died. Soon he got very abusive and began screaming and sometimes leaving for a week straight and leave Uhmma with the kids. Uhmma decided that she wanted to start going to church with the children but that didn't last long, Apa got into big trouble.

He came home and immediately started abusing them. Soon after that when he tried to kill Uhmma, Young stepped up and called the police.

Once her family was safe from Apa and she and her family were okay, she was leaving for college. When Uhmma decides to show her pictures from childhood and she finally

understands now.

She was showing her pictures of herself, Joon, Halmoni, and even Apa. She gives her a picture of Her and her Apa and reminds her that " We come from a family of dreamers and if you work hard Young Ju, you are only a step from Heaven."

Printz Award

The " Michael L. Printz " award recognizes the "best books for teens based entirely on its literary merit." This award was named after a librarian in Topeka, Kansas, Mike Printz. For the award, four runners-up may be recognized then an overall winner. Every year three to four are named. Marcus Sedgwick won the most recent Printz award in 2014 for Midwinterblood on January 27th, 2014.
Some history of the Printz award is the first recipient of the of the award was Ellen Wittlinger with Hard Love in 2000. The award began in the year 2000. It was only in the United States when it started and still is.
Some criteria for this award includes that the genres that are in the running are non-fiction, poetry, anthologies, and fiction. The award is based off of if it is good for readers of of the age 12 through 18. The book must be published the year before the award is given out. You cannot publish a book in 2014 and get an award in 2014 for that book. For the Printz award there is one winner, but up to four other titles you can possibly win. The Printz award is sponsored my Booklist, Publication of American Library Association. Michael L. Printz retired from his job in 1994 and died at age 59 in 1996.

An Na

An Na was born in Korea in 1972. Although she was Korean-born, she wanted to become an American's children's author. She started her career as a middle school English and history teacher. Once she took a Young Adult literature class, she immediately started writing novels. To help her achieve writing, she enrolled in M.F.A. program at Vermont College.

She gained success on her first book, A Step From Heaven which was published by Front Stress Press. She won the Michael L. Printz award in 2001 as well. For this book she was also recognized for the "best book written for teens". Na was a finalist for National Book Award for young people's literature and also found on the "Best Books" list. She still wants to inspire young Asian-American students and children everywhere by talking about her career and encourages creativity. She always says that she still admires her first writing teacher, Jaqueline Woodson.

She currently splits her time between Oakland, CA and Warren, VT. Some of her other works include Wait For Me (2006), The Fold (2008), and Akabar: The Great Emperor of India.

My Thoughts

I thought A Step From Heaven is a very enjoyable book. I liked this book because every chapter was intriguing. It was completely different every chapter and had a good plot. I think the author did a great job of really making the reader understand how much Young Ju grew up throughout the book. Although the end was very sad, it had a good message. However far apart a family gets, they always have to help each other when in need. I think this book is worthy of the Printz Award because it was full of surprises, relatable, and a heartfelt story about a family that had some hard times.