Kit Mannheim thinks she's discovered hell when her family moves from Honolulu to Seoul in the winter of 1974. At thirteen, she has a lot to learn about misery, but that will come. She's determined to escape from Korea, but needs a plan. After discarding dozens of escape ideas which either require her to persuade her unpersuadable parents, such as convincing them that the rat-to-people ratio in their home is dangerously high, or are too self-destructive, such as developing a medical condition that can only be treated stateside, she's convinced that the only way out is to acquire the money and skills necessary to buy an airline ticket and then make a living in Hawaii under an assumed name.
Kit's mantra becomes self-reliance and she transforms herself into the motivated, overachieving teenager her parents have wanted since she was booted out of Camp Fire Girls years earlier. She studies Tae-Kwon-Do, discovers the black market, and pursues every Girl Scout badge that has a profit potential. Her good-natured sister Gina and a lonely Korean boy, who reminds her of Speed Racer, are her companions. They explore the alleys and villages of Seoul, which aren't as safe as advertised. No one suspects what Kit is up to until it's too late. By then, she's no longer desperate for escape, just redemption.
I like this. It's an interesting premise and location and it's a good reflectionof the determination and short sightedness of kids. It's not cutesey (good) but it doesn't give us much sense of where "redemption" comes from ie what the problem becomes.