Blog Tour Review: Troublemaker by John Cho

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

An informative middle grade family story centered around the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

Thank you so much to TBR and Beyond Tours and John Cho for allowing me to be part of this experience and also providing me with a complimentary eARC and media kit!

Book Information

Genre: Middle Grade Historical Novel
Publishing Date: March 22, 2022

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.

12-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. 

Content and Trigger Warnings

For a list of warnings, tropes, and representation for this book, check out its page on BookTriggerWarnings.com.

About the Author

John Cho is known as Harold from Harold & Kumar, Hikaru Sulu from J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek, or as the star of the highly anticipated live-action Netflix series, Cowboy Bebop, based on the worldwide cult anime phenomenon (news of which “broke the Internet,” to quote Vanity Fair).  John is also a former 7th-grade English teacher who grew up as a Korean immigrant kid in Texas and East L.A. (among many other places). He is also now a proud father, with his Japanese-American wife Kerri, of two beautiful children — a 9-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old boy — who love to read.

Author Links:

Review (no spoilers)

If you’d like to follow along with the rest of the tour, you can find the tour schedule here.

I was so excited to read this middle grade novel once I saw who the author was. Most people know John Cho from Harold & Kumar, but I’ll always know him as the ghost love interest from season 1 of Charmed.

Troublemaker is a story about many things. Centered around the 1992 LA Riots (after the verdict was announced regarding the police beating of Rodney King), the novel follows a kid named Jordan who is desperate to bring a gun to his father who has gone to his store in Koreatown to try and prep it against potential looting/arson. Along the way, we learn more about why these riots have started and how racial dynamics come into play. On top of that, we also learn more about Jordan and his friends/family: how Jordan never seems to be good enough for his father, how his mother attempts to hide any issues she faces from everyone else, how his grandfather lost his fingers in the Vietnam war, how his sister is struggling to keep up her reputation as the “good child”, and how his best friend doesn’t seem to fit in with society.

The overall plot and delivery of Troublemaker is not a complex one, so don’t go into this expecting to experience any major twists or complicated intertwining plot arcs. This book is one that sets out to tell its story in a very straightforward manner, but that doesn’t take away from the morals and historical knowledge that the novel delivers. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking to inform their kids a little bit more about the history of racial tensions in the United States, particularly in regard to the 1992 LA riots.

4 thoughts on “Blog Tour Review: Troublemaker by John Cho

  1. Ellie Rayner March 29, 2022 / 8:26 am

    Great review JenJen, this one sounds interesting! xx

    Liked by 1 person

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