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An affecting if uneven debut in which a Korean girl newly immigrated to the US struggles to transcend the chaos of a strange land and of a violent overstressed family Ever since Ahn Joo arrived in Arlington Virginia with her parents and younger brother her parents have fought unceasingly about her father's drinking and her mother's lack of respect It's true Ahn Joo realizes that her father contradicts the stereotype of the hardworking Korean immigrant who opens a grocery and proceeds to grow rich in America Fleeing an abusive father of his own in Korea rather than moving to the US in pursuit of wealth he lacks ambition and seems happy with his welding job Still even eight year old Ahn Joo is unprepared for her mother's extreme reaction to her husband's laziness One day as Ahn Joo is walking home from school she sees her mother with her son in tow fleeing home in a cab with the puzzling name ``Reliable'' painted on the door Entering their apartment Ahn Joo finds a note from her mother promising to come back for her someday but as the years go by and her mother never calls or writes the girl is left alone to face adolescence care for her father and puzzle out her family's mysteries The author deftly evokes such vivid moments as Ahn Joo's embarrassment when her father takes over a snack cart in Washington and her depiction of her heroine's struggle to come to terms with a new land as well as of the push pull relationship between father and daughter are both memorable and moving In the end though the lack of any real catharsis or resolution renders the parts greater than the whole Copyright ©1997 Kirkus Associates LP All rights reserved


10 thoughts on “A Cab Called Reliable

  1. says:

    This is a story about a Korean American girl who moved to America when she was 7 and the issues of identity culture and coming of age that she faces Her mother takes her brother and leaves her with her abusive father when she is 9 and she can't understand why As she matures she strives to find her place in the world and come to terms with who she is and the hand she's been dealtA part of me really wanted to like this story the writing is good and many of the themes are universal but I just felt bored reading it It's a really short book and shouldn't take long at all to read but there's not much excitement I didn't feel invested in the characters and I didn't really care what happened to them I felt like I was reading a documentary on a Korean immigrant family The thing that really did it in for me though was the author telling me flat out the reason why the protagonist's mother left The main character spends all this time trying to figure out why her mother abandoned her her entire identity seems to be founded in that question only to find that there is a simple straightforward reason to why she left For me this book lost most of its depth and became devoid of further contemplation after thatEven though I'm being rather critical of it I did still get some enjoyment from reading it Like I said a lot of the themes are easy to relate to and to a certain extent it's interesting to see how this girl and her father developWhile I wouldn't recommend it to any serious reader I'm sure younger people especially girls could find it enjoyable


  2. says:

    This book really disturbed me The first chapter was intriguing to me because the main character a young Korean American girl sees her mom leave her and her father with her brother The mother leaves a note telling the girl that she would be back for her In reality the mom never comes back to get the girl The father who is sexually abusive gave me the creeps I did not enjoy his character at all and hated the way he treated his daughter The whole point of the story was for the girl to find out why her mom left That mystery was one thing that kept me reading However when I found out why she left in the first place I was completely disappointed The whole book led up to find out and it just was anti climactic The ending was also confusing I feel like the author got lazy and just wanted to end the book quickly because that’s what it felt like a quick and messy ending


  3. says:

    A Cab Called Reliable is a fine and easy read It's a pretty good introduction for people interested in expanding into books of cross and intra cultural experiences particularly for Asian Americans Korean Americans specifically in this book Here the novel takes is a coming of age approach and situates within larger cultural and identity struggles It is definitely sophisticated than something like The Joy Luck Club but falls short when compared to A Gesture Life I'd recommend this book for people who want to read 20 pages before they fall asleep what I did or to others looking to introduce discussions of culture or maybe even feminism But for someone looking to grapple with these large issues I recommend going elsewhere


  4. says:

    I really like the book because Patti Kim's style of writing gives you the freedom to make your own thoughts about the plot and the charactersThe story itself is very impressive I am glad to wirte my final exam about this book for the German highschoolGreetings from Germany


  5. says:

    A fabulous roman a clef from Patti Kim It is a coming of age story of a Korean American during the 1970s Kim uses language well to convey the characters' moods and trains of thought A slim book but well worth the read


  6. says:

    Kirkus Reviews called this book uneven and that's probably the truest thing I can say about it While I found it interesting and the characters round I wouldn't call it diverting I'm not sure I can recommend it From my perspective respectfully I feel like the revelations in it for the reader will be individual and not necessarily the intention of the author Read for independent study concerning female Korean American writers


  7. says:

    A coming of age Asian American experience But I did not get very into the novel partly because I felt like it never fully explained the reasons or motives behind the character's actions I did not really connect with the protagonist nor did I understand her volatile relationship with her father It was ok


  8. says:

    I read this short novel quickly and liked it though it's a little rough around the edges It's about a Korean girl whose mother abandons the family two years after they move to the U S The novel covers several years in her life normally not a great idea but several moments are surprising and I found myself caring about her and her father


  9. says:

    There are so many questions she left unanswered and for that very reason I think it makes a great read Its a book I sometimes feel like ripping apart and then piecing it together with black and red tapes I am keeping the book though for the unanswered questions in life