Cover Image: The All-American

The All-American

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Member Reviews

Our protagonist is a teenage adoptee who wants to play college football, after a series of unfortunate events, he finds himself deported back to South Korea and the story starts to take a turn. The book was written in a stream of consciousness type which helped making it quick however it was a bit hard personally to connect with the character and he came off as a bit one-dimensional at times. Overall a good, interesting read however left me hoping for more

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Very interesting coming of age story about a young man named Bucky who gets deported to South Korea, having grown up in America and his story of fitting in with his Korean culture. A bit chaotic at times but I think the author did a good job of relaying the character's experience in South Korea as someone who grew up in a different culture.

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Thank you to Net Galley and W. W. Norton & Company for the ARC in exchange for my honest review. Bucky Yi is a 17 year old adoptee and has big dreams to play college football, escaping the small town life of rural Washington State. Bucky doesn't know who his bio-father and mother as his adoptive mother dated Bucky's dad and disappeared one day. His adoptive mother has another adopted son and a bit of a crazy family. It's this family that lands Bucky in jail only to find out he's getting deported back to South Korea as it seems a payment bounced and his immigration paperwork was not finalized when he's a boy. So he's being shipped back "home". Then crazy things really start happening as the South Korean government figures out that he really doesn't belong there, and they're ready to send him back to the US but, as he's of age, the SK government realizes he can't leave without doing military service. This story is a wild ride but shows how tenuous it is for those who don't look "American", don't belong. There's also commentary on government, politics and family. Overall, it was an interesting read.

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Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher W.W. Norton and Company, and the author Joe Milan Jr. for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. The premise of this book has potential as it addresses important themes of adoption, citizenship, Asian/Korean-American adoption, and what it means to be an American; but the execution of these ideas is lackluster. While Bucky doesn't have to be a perfect character, victim, or likable he doesn't have much depth to show either. Considering all of that, the reader isn't compelled much to read further along about Bucky.

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A very plotty book about a boy in the rural US with promise as a football player, only to be deported to south korea due to an error in paperwork. An interesting conceit with basis on real events, he struggles in his new environment. A new, very contemporary coming-of-age novel.

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This was heartbreaking. It took me some time to want to write the review because I needed to process some of the moments of the book. I would highly recommend it, I am always in the lookout for good coming of age stories with cultural aspects that may make them interesting and this is a good one.

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This was an interesting read, and it seemed very plausible. Bucky is South Korean, living in rural Washington State with his step mom, going to high school, playing football and hoping to make it into college on a football scholarship. You could say he's living the American dream. All of which comes crashing down when his "Uncle" and him get into an argument which escalates and Bucky finds himself arrested. And very soon after that he finds himself deported to South Korea, someplace he has never been. Culture shock is daunting to say the least, he can't speak Korean, can't even say his Korean name. He eventually finds himself working at a bar, cleaning the place and loading kegs of beer (because he's very fit he's the only one that can lift them). All the while he's trying to get back to America, he's talking to a lawyer, things are looking positive until they are not and he finds himself in the South Korean military, part of the mandatory military service for Korean men. He goes through basic training, is assigned to a small island with another recruit to watch for invading North Koreans. Overall I enjoyed the story and how Bucky adapted to all the situations he was thrust into. Thanks to #Netgalley and #WW Norton and Co for the ARC.

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📚: The All-American by Joe Milan Jr.
⭐️: 3.5/5 (rounding down on #goodreads)

As a forewarning, this read is not a light one. A Korean adoptee, Bucky has lived detached from his Korean identity in the US. A football running back, he has dreams of playing college football, and a temper that lands him of all things, deported back to South Korea. Without knowledge of Korean culture, language, and a chip on his shoulder, Bucky finds himself having to grow to survive.

This stream of consciousness style writing made for a quick read, but at times fragmented reading. As a Korean adoptee myself, I hoped to connect more, but found Bucky’s character so unlikeable for more than the first half. There doesn’t seem to be many books with an adoptee story from a male main character perspective, and while this makes a place for that literary need, the anger issues and casual misogyny were a little tough to swallow at times.

Thanks to @w.w.norton via @netgalley for the digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. The All-American is out now as of April 4th! #gifted

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There was a point where I almost stopped reading Joe Milan, Jr.'s The All-American. I couldn't figure out if it was supposed to be young adult or not, I couldn't figure out the exact time period (maybe early '00s judging by references to Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, and The Matrix), and there was a sex scene that just seemed so out of place and gratuitous.

You made it past the above paragraph? Alright, well, I'll tell you what the book is about. A 17-year-old high school football player named Bucky (real Korean name is too hard for him or anybody else to pronounce) wants only one thing: to be scouted for a college football team. Through an unfortunate set of circumstances, it turns out that Bucky isn't an American citizen. He's deported back to South Korea, despite not knowing how to speak the language or having any money. He might not even be 17! Now his main goal is to get back to America. But first, he's gotta get in some fights with some people, join the army per Korea's military service law, find his bio-dad, and figure out just where he really belongs.

The premise of the novel sounds good - a boy caught between two worlds - and I appreciate the exploration of Korean culture and juxtaposing America with South Korea. However, this book didn't deliver the way I thought it would. Maybe it was because I was reading an e-ARC, but it felt disjointed to me and I had trouble empathizing with Bucky because, in the words of another character, he was "a meathead".

The All-American is published by W.W. Norton and is available to purchase now. I received a free e-ARC.

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I liked this book. It was heartbreaking and profound. Even though I enjoyed my reading experience, something felt off. I think it was the writing style. I didn't like the short, clipped sentences. It made for an uneven prose. I did sympathize with the main character. He was complex but likeable. A great coming-of-age story, but not an instant favorite.

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Thank you to W.W. Norton & Company and NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
The All-American by Joe Milan Jr. follows Joe who dreams of playing college football. However, his dreams of staying in the U.S. are challenged when he comes to terms with the fact that he is an illegal immigrant. He is deported to South Korea and grows up in a homeland that feels foreign to him, yet he learns to embrace his Korean heritage. This narrative ultimately a personal reflection on Korean American identity.

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Thank you NetGalley for giving me a copy of this book. I chose this book because it is different from what i usually read. I found the book to be very interesting and the main character definitely went through several trials and tribulations to get to where he was by the end.

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⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

The All-American tells Bucky’s story, a Korean boy who has spent all his life in America, and thinks only about American football. After an unfortunate incident, Bucky’s citizenship is called into question and he is deported to South Korea, despite not even knowing how to pronounce his own Korean name. Throughout the novel, Bucky grapples with his identity, feeling rejected by both America and Korea, and coming to understand himself.

The premise of this book was what really pulled me in, I wanted to know about Bucky’s story, and follow him through his difficulties and watch him develop. As the book was written from his perspective, you get to see a lot of his thoughts and feelings, and can easily understand that he is a flawed character (as any adolescent is, especially in such a difficult situation). However, there were a few moments in the book that just felt a bit clunky and unnecessary, and I didn’t feel like I understood everything as it happened, or it’s relevance to the overarching story. While I enjoyed the character development, some of the novel just felt a bit disjointed.

Overall, an enjoyable read, but I think I would’ve preferred a slightly clearer timeline, though that’s just a personal preference!

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High school student By-ong-huk Yi goes by Bucky, that’s his American name and as far as he’s concerned American is all he is. Taken to America as a baby by his Korean father, he now lives with his white stepmother in a small, rundown town. He’s one of three Asian-American students in his school, most of his schoolmates are racist and his grades are lousy but he’s a rising star on his football team and that gives him hope for the future. Then an error in his immigration paperwork leads to his abrupt deportation to South Korea. What follows is a visceral, near-absurdist comedy of errors involving the Korean military, the Korean equivalent of the secret service, a rusted submarine and a handful of North Korean spies. Joe Milan Jr’s coming-of-age narrative is a decidedly eccentric take on cultural heritage, identity and alienation. The plot’s more than a little contrived, and sometimes downright bizarre, but it’s fluidly written, fast-paced and intensely gripping. And even though the bewildered Bucky is often more anti-hero than hero, it’s hard not to root for him as he struggles to survive his nightmarish predicament.

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Wow I mean… this book goes all over the place. Talk about a plot driven book. The mc is adopted, deported, sent to the military?! There were moments I got a bit lost, esp when the main character meets with North Koreans. I think the book does a great job of showing hypocrisy and contradictions with the immigration system, militarism, and US-S Korea - N Korea relations. This book is def a trip and I couldn’t have predicted where it was going esp bc the mc is so up and down.

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This is a page turner. I was captivated by Bucky from the start, and quickly found myself 100 pages in, not wanting to put the book down. The book is well written from a position of knowledge - I found it all very believable. It roars along at a quick pace and you never really know where the story will take you next. It's too deep to call it a beach read, but it's pacy and entertaining.

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What a strange, twisty ride this book was! Bucky, a Korean-American teen, lives a pretty unexceptional life in rural Washington where he plays football and tries to get by. An entanglement with law enforcement reveals that his citizenship was never cemented, and he finds himself deported to South Korea despite having no known connections there and not speaking the language. Once again, he gets by with a little help, and just when it seems like he might be able to go home to the US, he ends up removed from the plane and conscripted into the army in order to fulfill his mandatory service commitments. Oh, and he has to pay off the debt his father, who he thought was deceased, keeps incurring under his (Bucky's) name. I mean, really, can this kid catch a break?! The story doesn't end there and includes even more outlandish plot twists, which makes this novel a chaotic, but enjoyable read.

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As an Asian born in Asia, but having lived in the USA since the age of one, my journey has been the opposite of our main character, Bucky. And thus my interest was great when I was given an ARC of this book for an honest review. I can’t say, however, that that same level of interest was still there by the time I finished.

Does A LOT happen to Bucky? Yes. And did he have to grow up real fast? Absolutely. But the book felt long, and to be honest it really took a while for me to commit to continue reading this book initially. One important thing to note is that football is definitely not the main storyline in this book and so those just browsing may overlook it simply because the description may lead them to believe it is.

With patience the book shows glimmer of something really interesting being built, but it’s hard to say what genre reader would enjoy this book. I’d like to think it can be felt and understood by more than just an Asian or Asian-American reader, but I’m not sure the book is really being promoted as anything more than that reader base.

Hopefully I’m wrong though. This is an author I will follow for future work.

This book will be reviewed on Amazon and future social media outlets once it is offficially released. Many thanks again to the publisher.

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This book takes the reader on quite a journey! It's a quiet masterpiece. That's what I thought when I finished reading it because Milan has managed to subtly make statements on identity, family, nationality, politics, sports and even the Korean military. This book will take you places where you've never been before and the main character has some of the oddest experiences you could ever imagine one person having. Yet, the story is strangely believable. It's a coming-of-age story and by the end you'll be loving this kid.

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book. I loved it and I hope others do as well.

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This book was never what I expected. I wasn't sure at first about all the football but I really liked the main character and really wanted to know what happened next for him. Really good coming of age figuring out who you are story.

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