Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Fold

The Fold by An Na

Rating: 3.5/5

IQ “What might make you happy one minute might not make you happy the next. What is beautiful now won’t be later. Everything is always changing. You have to know what is true to you.” Helen

Joyce never used to care that much about how she looked, but that was before she met JFK—John Ford Kang, the most gorgeous guy in school. And it doesn't help that she's constantly being compared to her beautiful older sister, Helen. Then her rich plastic-surgery-addict aunt offers Joyce a gift to "fix" a part of herself she'd never realized needed fixing—her eyes. Joyce has heard of the fold surgery—a common procedure meant to make Asian women's eyes seem "prettier" and more "American"—but she's not sure she wants to go through with it. Her friend Gina can't believe she isn't thrilled. After all, the plastic surgeon has shown Joyce that her new eyes will make her look just like Helen—but is that necessarily a good thing?

The Fold taught me a lot. I wanted to read this book because I knew nothing about fold surgery. I couldn’t imagine why an Asian person would do that. I love Asian eyes, I think they’re gorgeous (I would love to have them!)! It just goes to show you that every culture (and every person) has something about themselves that they don’t like.

The funniest (and my favorite) character was Andy, Joyce’s younger brother. He’s always eavesdropping and he wants to be in the NBA, but his family doesn’t think he can, because he’s so short. They hope it’s a phase since he’s only in middle school. Andy’s solution to making himself taller is hilarious but sad at the same time. Also, I love how Joyce and Andy gave their aunt the code name Michael. Her real name is Gomo, but they call her Michael because of all the plastic surgeries she’s gotten (eight), like the singer Michael Jackson. I also really liked Helen, but I thought her story was pretty predictable. She was sweet and she gave Joyce some good advice (that she often chose not to listen to). I thought Joyce was too harsh on her sister and was pretty selfish, always thinking about herself.

One of my least favorite characters was Gina, Joyce’s best friend. She was so caught up in being beautiful and helping Joyce become beautiful that she didn’t seem to care about the repercussions of the eye fold surgery. She just wanted Joyce to get the surgery. I felt that Gina wasn’t a good friend because she never told Joyce “You’re already pretty, you don’t need surgery.” She seemed to think that Joyce was ‘ugly’ enough to need the surgery. But at other times she seemed like a loyal friend.

Something that really annoyed me about this book was the lack of explanations of the Korean words. When Joyce greeted her aunt she says ‘on-young-ha-say-yo Gomo”. I’m sure that’s a greeting but I would like to know what it means. Also does Gomo just mean aunt or is it the aunt’s real name? The food dishes were never explained either, I’m not familiar with Korean food so I didn’t recognize many of their names and I was curious about what was in certain dishes (like bi-bim bop). Questions like this ran repeatedly through my mind while I read this book.

On the other hand, I really liked the descriptions at the Korean community. It was very interesting and a lot of their views on certain issues were a lot like other immigrants (I speak from experience!). They were a very close-knit community, which was good and bad. Everyone knew everyone else’s business, but they also looked out for each other. The characters discuss the ideal Korean beauty and it’s sad but enlightening at the same time.

I learned from this book, but I don’t think I would pick it up and read it again anytime soon, although I think the topic is important to read about.


  1. This is in my TBR pile, so I kinda skipped your review, except for the last line. I tried another NA book, maybe Step From Heaven and couldn't get into it. I want to read The Fold, though. I think the concept of beauty from other cultural perspectives is interesting.
    I had two students read and really enjoy this book. In fact, I gave them both ur blog URL. I hope they'll visit soon.

  2. Hi Ari, thanks for Another book to add to my TBR. It's reaching the ceiling soon. ha ha I've heard of this before so it would be interesting to read about the idea from their persceptive. Thank you for the excellent review.
    Jo Ann Hernandez
    BronzeWord Latino Authors

  3. What an interesting book. I'd never heard of it before. The book, I mean. I had heard about the surgery from an episode of CSI. Which I don't even really watch, but just happened to tune in one day. Fate, I guess.

    The girl in CSI was Korean too. Is this just a Korean thing, or do other Asian-Americans do this too?

  4. I think other Asian-Americans do it too, but I'm not sure. Something to research on my part :) I think I may have seen a part of the CSI episdoe you're talking about!

  5. Hi, Ari! I remember that other book reviewers found Helen's story predictable. I didn't find it predictable myself - but that's probably because I was so focused on Joyce and didn't really care at all about Helen. Hmmm...

    You've raised an excellent point about the lack of explanations or translations for the Korean words and food dishes in the novel. I think you're right about that. I understood all the words and knew all the food dishes myself (seven out of ten foreigners in the Philippines are Korean), but the novel is meant for an international readership (particularly an American readership), so there should have been explanations or translations.

    And for anyone curious, the fold surgery is more an Asian thing than an Asian American thing (especially among Koreans, Japanese, and Chinese - since they usually do not have eye folds). And I really don't get it. I think Asian eyes with no folds are DAMN SEXY.

  6. I agree Tarie, Asian eyes are so beautiful! I guess the grass just always looks greener on the other side.

  7. Tarie, I really love Asian eyes too. I think I'm going to marry an Asian guy.I think they're so cute! <3

    I actually loved A Step From Heaven! Its one of my favorite books, because it was the first one I read that was written in poetic-like and I really don't like poetry. :)

    I should read this one!

  8. Isa, we should talk! I'm going to hunt down your email address. :D

  9. I'm fascinated by Asian culture, and I think that it's sad that many people feel that they have to change themselves to look more "Western." I've heard of this book before and didn't pick it up, but your review has me interested! I'll probably end up reading it!


I love to hear from you!! Thank you for sharing :) And don't be Anon, I try to always reply back and I like to know who I'm replying to ;)