“Joseph, the Ethnic Sandwich” is the title of our 8th-grade protagonist’s second essay for his "Tracing Your Past: A Heritage Essay" assignment. The first one was about an Olympic gold medalist from Korea, Joseph’s “grandfather,” and a prize-winning piece of total fiction. Joseph Calderaro, 100% Italian on the inside and 100% Korean on the outside, was adopted as an infant by his New Jersey Italian family. This end-of-year assignment, and the arrival of a Korean family to town, push Joseph to an Internet search for his birthmother, and his family to a new level of understanding about identity, ancestors and belonging. Joseph, an adopted Korean-Italian drummer-comic book junkie-funny guy, is “One hunk of Joseph slapped between a slice of Italian bread and a mound of Korean sticky rice.” And as his dad, and eventually Joseph, figures out, “Maybe that’s not such a bad combination.”
Kimchi & Calamari is told in Joseph’s voice, and a strong, real voice it is. 8th grade isn’t the first time Joseph’s thought about his genetic origins, but his parents, so rooted are they in their Italian-American heritage, have never given him an opening. Joseph is a realistic adopted “everykid” -- he longs to know more about MBA (“me before America”), while being exactly who he is and affirming that he is a permanent and real member of his ‘real,’ not by birth, family.
Recommended for readers 4th-9th grade, and all adopted teens.
For more, visit the author's website.