Hurt You by Marie Myung-Ok Lee
With echoes of Marieke Nijkamp and Jason Reynolds, acclaimed author Marie Myung-Ok Lee’s stunning YA homage to Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men tells the tragic story of a Korean American teen who fights to protect herself and her neurodivergent older brother from a hostile community.
Moving beyond the quasi-fraternal bond of the unforgettable George and Lenny from Of Mice and Men, Hurt You explores the actual sibling bond of Georgia and Leonardo da Vinci Daewoo Kim, who has an unnamed neurological disability that resembles autism. The themes of race, disability, and class spin themselves out in a suburban high school where the Kim family has moved in order to access better services for Leonardo.
Suddenly unmoored from the familiar, including the support of her Aunt Clara, Georgia struggles to find her place in an Asian-majority school where whites still dominate culturally, and she finds herself feeling not Korean "enough." Her one pole star is her commitment to her brother, a loyalty that finds itself at odds with her immigrant parents’ dreams for her, and an ableist, racist society that may bring violence to Leonardo despite her efforts to keep him safe.
Hurt You is a deep exploration of family, society, and the bond between siblings and reflects the reality that people with intellectual disabilities are far more likely to be the victim of a violent crime, not the perpetrator.