• Troublemaker

  • By: John Cho
  • Narrated by: John Cho
  • Length: 4 hrs and 46 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (44 ratings)

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Troublemaker  By  cover art

Troublemaker

By: John Cho
Narrated by: John Cho
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Publisher's Summary

Troublemaker follows the events of the LA Riots through the eyes of 12-year-old Jordan as he navigates school and family. This book will highlight the unique Korean American perspective.

Twelve-year-old Jordan feels like he can't live up to the example his older sister set or his parent's expectations. When he returns home from school one day hoping to hide his suspension, Los Angeles has reached a turning point. In the wake of the acquittal of the police officers filmed beating Rodney King, as well as the shooting of a young Black teen, Latasha Harlins, by a Korean store owner, the country is at the precipice of confronting its racist past and present. 

As tensions escalate, Jordan's father leaves to check on the family store, spurring Jordan and his friends to embark on a dangerous journey to come to his aide and come to terms with the racism within and affecting their community.

©2022 John Cho (P)2022 Little, Brown Young Readers

Critic Reviews

“Complex family dynamics are at the heart of this compelling fast-paced debut novel. John Cho's highly personal Korean American perspective of the LA riots combine harsh realities, racial tension, and ultimately hope." (Lisa Yee, author of Maizy Chen's Last Chance)

“A compelling story in a vivid setting that has not been explored enough in books for young readers. Jordan is a genuine, flawed character so real you can't help rooting for him. Deep appreciation to authors John Cho and Sarah Suk for writing this much-needed book.” (Linda Sue Park, Newbery medalist and NYTimes best-selling author)

“At its core, Troublemaker is a deeply moving story of redemption between a 12-year-old Korean American rebellious son and his strict storeowner father, set against the prescient backdrop of a riveting and suspenseful journey into the heart of 1992 Los Angeles’ Koreatown on the first night of what would become one of our country’s most iconic movements of civil unrest.” (Paula Yoo, award-winning author of From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial That Galvanized the Asian American Movement)

What listeners say about Troublemaker

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Thoughtful, endearing, and provokes empathy

I grew up not learning about the LA riots in school, and I LIVE in LA. This book is needed in the classroom. I attended a webinar and I connected to what John Cho said, “we are not complete, until we exist in culture”. John and Sarah, thank you for telling this story!

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Outstanding!

This is an absolutely outstanding book, and should be in every classroom! I am so excited to use it during my black history month this year. I can't recommend it enough!

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Important perspective!

Cho has brought the Rodney King a different vantage point. It is so vital to understand history from more than one perspective. Cho gives this to us in an engaging and sometimes humorous story of an American family dealing confronted by American issues.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A great piece of literature!

This is an authentic and heartfelt work of fiction about a traumatic historical event from a young Korean point of view. I was young when I saw Rodney King beaten with an inch of his life/death on television. It was very traumatic and I remember how my mother was outraged that the police did this but my stepfather was on the side of the police. I quickly got to see who he really was in 2 seconds. My mother told me not to ask about the riots when I was at school. She said it would only cause fights, she was right. I was 12 and felt completely powerless. I was the oldest and had to take care of my brother and sisters and do everything I could to keep the peace within our household during this time. Thank you so much for this wonderful piece of literature! It brought back good and bad memories but also reminded me of the fact that our allies don't always look like us or sound like us but good people do exist in this world.

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Engaging story for all ages

I was just a kid growing up in NJ when the riots happened. LA seemed worlds away. Now fast forward 30 years & yep I’m an Angelena. It behooves me as a Korean-American living in LA to educate myself about the events leading up to & following the riots. In that vein, this book, with its engrossing story & compelling read by John Cho, not only is totally educational while keeping a personal, intimate perspective on big topics, but it’s also a fun listen. Definitely took me back to my own years feeling like a displaced kid in the US. I laughed & cried. We need more stories like this!

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Young Person's Book Valuable to All

I am 73 years old. I read and listen to a lot of books. I enjoy reading books written for young people, as well as a wide variety of authors and genres. This is one of the best written, most moving books that I have read in some time. Very profound and believable and appropriate for all ages.

John, this may not be the book you were asked to write, but I believe it IS the book you wete supposed to write. Thank you for listening to your inner voice. I hope someone sees fit to make a movie of this story.

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Good Trouble

excellent story about coming of age and race relations. highly recommended for all ages and genders.

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Great read! Enjoyed the perspective

I really enjoyed this story, with a young person's perspective during a very disheartening time in South Central LA after the Rodney King aftermath. Jordan's transition from his home country of Korea to America. And finding his place within his family.

There are some great insights of Korean honor to family and the trouble young people navigate. The story is exciting and fun read as Jordan makes way to his family store near all of the rioting and danger to help his dad. But he learns this help has consequences.

Absolutely a great read!

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Excellent and enjoyable.

I enjoyed this story from beginning to end.
Narrator captured the emotions of the time.
I felt as though I was right there with Jordan.

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Profile Image for jake martin
  • jake martin
  • 04-04-22

AWESOME

loved it!
great story hooked all along!
worth a listen!
John Cho reading this makes it so much better!

1 person found this helpful