Title: Pippa Park Raises Her Game
Author: Erin Yun
Date Published: February 4, 2020
Rating: 4.25/5 stars
Date read: May 3, 2020
ARC provided by Edelweiss and Fabled Films Press
Pippa Park Raises Her Game is a middle grade retelling of Great Expectations. In this retelling we follow sixth grader and talented basketball player Pippa Park who’s just been recruited into the most prestigious middle school she knows of and her current school’s rival, Lakeview Prep. Pippa jumps at this chance, getting to be at the same school as her crush and math tutor and leaving behind her best friend.
I’ve never read Great Expectations nor do I have any major plans to do so, but I did decide to read a summary of it before going into Pippa Park Raises Her Game to get an idea of how the story changes. I’d say overall this is a pretty faithful yet modern retelling, though Yun took a few liberties with the ending, her changes being something I really liked and appreciated.
As for the writing, I thought Pippa’s voice sounded a bit older than a sixth grader, but I won’t fault the book too much for that. If anything I dislike it when middle grade feels dumbed down and that definitely was not the case here. I also don’t always find reading about sports exciting, but the games in Pippa Park Raises Her Game were well written and exciting, and I think this reflects well on Yun’s writing skills.
One of my favourite aspects of the novel was the inclusion of Korean culture, Pippa celebrates Korean holidays with her family, watches K-dramas
I caught that You’re Beautiful reference, listens to K-pop, includes Korean words in her dialogue, and eats really delicious sounding Korean food. The difficulties she encounters because of her heritage and economic situation make her a character that is easy to root for and relatable. The embarrassment she experiences when she brings a lunch to school full of foods her classmates are unfamiliar with is I’m sure something a lot of kids can relate to, and I’m glad she ultimately sees how much love and care goes into the meals her family prepares for her.
As for what I didn’t like, there isn’t much. I didn’t enjoy how boy crazy Pippa was in the first half of the novel, but I was ultimately satisfied by the way her crush progressed.
Whenever I pick up middle grade I always ask myself whether this is a book I’d share with my children if I had any, and the answer is a definite yes in this case. Pippa doesn’t always make the best choices in this novel, but her decisions are understandable given her situation, and they’re in no way unforgivable. This is the type of diverse middle grade I’d actively want my kids to read.
Have you read Pippa Park Raises Her Game? If not, do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading 💗