Necessary Roughness

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Chan Kim has never felt like an outsider in his life. That is, not until his family moves from L.A. to a tiny town in Minnesota--Land of 10,000 Lakes--and probably 10,000 hicks,too. The Kims are the only Asian family in town, and when Chan and his twin sister, Young, attend high school, it's a blond-haired, blue-eyed whiteout.

Chan throws himself into the only game in town--football--and the necessary roughness required to make a player. On the field it means "justifiable violence," but as Chan is about to discover, off the field it's a whole different ballgame . . .Chan Jung Kim has always been popular. But that was when he lived in L.A. and was the star of his soccer team. Now his family’s moved—to a tiny town in Minnesota, where football’s the name of the game and nobody has ever seen an Asian American family before. Desperate to fit in, Chan throws himself into the game—but he feels like an outsider. For the first time in his life, he finds himself thinking about what it really means to be Korean—and what is really important. By turns gripping, painful, funny, and illuminating, Necessary Roughness introduces a major new talent and a fresh young voice to the Harper list.

1997 Best Books for the Teen Age (NY Public Library)
1998 Best Books for Young Adults (ALA)
Chan Jung Kim has always been popular. But that was when he lived in L.A. and was the star of his soccer team. Now his family’s moved—to a tiny town in Minnesota, where football’s the name of the game and nobody has ever seen an Asian American family before. Desperate to fit in, Chan throws himself into the game—but he feels like an outsider. For the first time in his life, he finds himself thinking about what it really means to be Korean—and what is really important. By turns gripping, painful, funny, and illuminating, Necessary Roughness introduces a major new talent and a fresh young voice to the Harper list.

1997 Best Books for the Teen Age (NY Public Library)
1998 Best Books for Young Adults (ALA)

Curriculet Details
61 Questions
57 Annotations
3 Quizzes

This free digital curriculum for high school students contains interactive videos exploring realistic fiction, protagonists and antagonists, allusions, and idioms as well as annotations describing Korean culture, Buddhism, and crafts of the writer. Students will explore the themes of racial intolerance and a difficult father/son relationship. The Common Core aligned questions, answers and quizzes in this free online unit will increase student engagement in the book while supporting reading comprehension.

The curriculet is being added to your library


Below is a statue of the Buddha. Siddhartha Guatama, or the Buddha, was once a wealthy prince but abandoned his riches for enlightenment. Based on his teachings and beliefs, the religion Buddhism, which is one of the major religions of the world, was formed. (This annotation contains an image)
The narrator, a first person narrator, must be Korean. He calls his mother, O-Ma, and his father, Abogee. 
Which word does not describe the relationship between the narrator and his father, Abogee? 


You should recognize this as figurative language. Click on the link below and watch the video for a quick review. Then choose which type of figurative language is demonstrated in the highlighted sentence. 
Writers begin developing their characters as soon as a story begins. This way the characters gradually unfold in a realistic way throughout the story. Based on what you've learned about Abogee so far, what character traits best describe him? 
Every culture has its own folklore. Those bodies of literature always include animals who act like humans to reveal both vices and virtues as well as stories that explain creation and natural phenomena, like why frogs croak in the rain.  (This annotation contains an image)
Right now the narrator is giving us a lot of background information. After all, we don't know why his family must suddenly move to Minnesota. 
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up? 


This sentence, of course, is not meant to be taken literally. What type of figurative language is being used here? 
The Continental Divide (the red line below) is the greatest hydrological divide in the Americas. (The prefix "hydro" or "hydra" always refers to water.) A hydological divide basically divides where rivers and streams empty into. The Continental Divide divides where water empties into the Pacific or the Atlantic.  (This annotation contains an image)
The narrator's name is Chan. You should also have already recognized that Chan is the protagonist of this story. Watch this video on protagonists and antagonists for a refresher on these important character types.  (This annotation contains a video)


There are cultural differences in what is socially acceptable behavior. For example, in many countries in the Middle East, it is considered good manners to burp loudly after a meal. It shows that you enjoyed the meal and are satisfied. In China, releasing trapped air in the body is considered robust and healthy and is perfectly appropriate if done in public. 
Use details from the novel and explain how the landlord is showing racial prejudice against Chan, Bong, and Abogee. 
This is an offensive term for Asian people. 


When you are a teenager and on the threshold of becoming an adult, sometimes you begin to see your parents differently. You realize that they are human, and they make mistakes and have weaknesses just like everyone. Growing up may be an emerging theme in this novel since our main character is struggling with it a bit. Watch this video on emerging themes in fiction and be alert for more development of this theme as the story unfolds.  (This annotation contains a video)


Should it be legal for a landlord or owner of apartments to refuse to rent to someone based on race or ethnicity? Explain your answer. 
Grandma Moses was a famous folk artist who painted pictures of the farms and rural countryside of the Northeastern United States. Her real name was Anna Mary Robertson Moses. (This annotation contains an image)
This sentence conveys how frightened Chan feels with everything being so strange and different. It is also an example of what kind of figurative language? 


When you read in school, you are often asked to provide textual evidence of certain ideas. Watch this video on the different types of textual evidence. Then use textual evidence to explain several ways that Iron River High is different from the high school Chan and Young attended in L.A. 
If you're unfamiliar with Spam, it's canned, pre-cooked meat made with ham and a mixture of other meats.  (This annotation contains an image)
What does Chan really mean here? 
Explain two things you've learned about Abogee in this chapter. Be sure to use details from the novel in your answer. 


Chan and Young are finding out quickly that Iron River, Minnesota is much more __________________ than L.A. 
This means the guy had hair that was "somewhat like" dreadlocks, but not completely--possibly something like the picture below.  (This annotation contains an image)
Why might the other guys have this reaction when Chan says he's from L.A.? 
We can infer Chan is ______________ of his sister. 


Based on what you've read so far, provide details that show how Abogee is affected by moving to Minnesota and taking over his brother's store. 
There are many conflicts in fiction, especially in a novel. What is Chan's conflict here and is it internal or external? 


The narrator's tone in this paragraph can best be described as _________________. 
A "maiden voyage" is the first official voyage of a ship. The Titanic sunk on her maiden voyage. 
"Samba" refers to a popular type of athletic shoe.  (This annotation contains an image)
Use details from this chapter to support this statement: Chan will not do just anything to fit in; he wants to be accepted on his own terms. 


Figurative language often gives us a visual image that makes the description of something much clearer. Football pads do look like segments of insects when you think about it. What is the type of figurative language used in this sentence? 
This is an allusion to the Norse god, Thor. An allusion is a literary device frequently used in all kinds of writing. Watch this video on allusions and see if you recognize any more examples used in the novel.  (This annotation contains a video)
This refers to a leisurely walk.  
Which of the following is an example of personification? 
Certainly by now you recognize this novel as realistic fiction. It takes place in present day and the characters are like real people with today's types of problems. Watch the video below for a quick review of the common traits of realistic fiction. Then ask yourself: could the human issues dealt with in this novel so far take place in say a fantasy or a historical fiction novel?  (This annotation contains a video)


Why does Abogee eat so noisily? 
What can you infer about O-Ma from this paragraph? 
Tae kwon do style push-ups are performed on your fists instead of your flat hands against the floor.  (This annotation contains an image)
This is another reference that the writer expects the reader to connect with. You may click on the link to see a picture of Pigpen, but then answer the following question. What is this type of reference called when used in writing? 
Quiz #1 


Do you think it's odd to have an assembly for announcing who made the football team? What does that suggest about this school and community? 
It seems that our protagonist is getting everything he wants. He's making friends and he's made the Varsity Football team. However, as a good reader, you know that there will undoubtedly be more problems facing Chan. Watch this video on the stages of plot and determine at which point we are now.  (This annotation contains a video)


We know this phrase must have some importance and possibly a double meaning since it is the title of this novel. Besides the physical and mental toughness required for football, what may be a more symbolic meaning of "necessary roughness" as it relates to the characters and situation of the story? 
This most likely means two practices a day. 


Often a writer uses figurative language to describe something. In this paragraph, the writer uses what type of figurative language? 
What is Chan referring to when he says, "...given Rom's, uh, opinions"? 
What is it that Chan thinks Mikko misunderstands about him? 
This line may be an example of foreshadowing. Which of the following is most likely what it foreshadows? 


Juilliard is a famous college in New York City for music and performing arts.  (This annotation contains an image)


M.C. Escher was a famous Dutch graphic designer known for his mathematical art and tessellations.  (This annotation contains an image)
Geronimo was a famous Native American warrior. He fought against Texans and Mexicans when they encroached upon Apache lands. Coach Kearny is using this name as a racial slur against Jimmi who is also Native American.  (This annotation contains an image)
Coach Kearny is exaggerating to make a point about how lousy the defense played. This is an example of what type of figurative language? 


Make a prediction about who you think would do this to Chan and why. 


Do you think Chan should tell Coach the truth about what happened to him? 
Which of the following characters is most likely in on the attack against Chan? 


Explain how Mr. Ripanen is being old- fashioned and sexist. 
Migrant farm workers will go from place to place to earn money for picking fruits and vegetables. California has historically been a place for migrant farm workers to pick grapes, strawberries, spinach, etc.  (This annotation contains an image)
Remember, Gary is the original kicker on the team who has been out because he's hurt. 
It may seem like just a casual conversation between Chan and Mikko, but this is how authors get background information across to the reader. We've found out that Rom and Jimmi typically do things to hurt and sabotage other people. 
This example of ___________________ lets us know just how much Chan likes Rainey. 


Froggie's Express is most likely a _________________________________. 


In your own words, explain the difference between Bong's way of doing business and Abogee's way of doing business. 
What does this flashback reveal about Abogee? 
Astro Pops also come in yellow, green, and red. (This annotation contains an image)


Writers use imagery so the reader can experience what is being described. They do this by choosing words that appeal to one of our five senses. Watch this video for a further discussion of imagery. Then identify the words that create a visual image of the evening the writer is describing.  (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following sentences does notcontain a simile? 
It's important that the team continues to win because this puts them in place to play for the state title. This creates continued suspense. What part of the plot are we reading at this point in the novel? 
Do you have a prediction here? Who was supposed to be blocking? 
Choose at least three words in this paragraph that create an ominous tone. 


To show how large and well furnished the basement in the Ripanens' home is, the writer uses which type of figurative language? 
One of the reasons Chan has trouble fitting in is because of his _________________. 
What does this sentence reveal about many of the players in the room? 
Why does Chan use this phrase now? 
Explain why you think Mikko is disappointed in Chan. 


Think about this for a minute. Do you think what Chan is doing is fair to Abogee? 


Many Korean Americans are portrayed in film and literature as people who feel pressure from their parents to be either doctors or lawyers. Click on the link and read the humorous article "23 Signs You're a First Generation Korean-American." Then list two connections from the list you can make to this novel. 
This may seem like a weird custom to you. Do you think American parents are too proud and complimentary of their children? 
This sentence best supports which of the following themes? 
Quiz #2 


Which of the following stereotypes does Rom best depict? 
Minnesota gets on average anywhere from 50 to 70 inches of snow per year. 
Kimchi is a Korean side dish of fermented cabbage in a sour sauce.  (This annotation contains an image)
This is an idiomatic expression, meaning to put an end to something. Watch the following video on idioms. How many idiomatic expressions do you use?  (This annotation contains a video)
A franchise is when a person opens and runs a business, like a store or restaurant, that is already an established company, such as McDonald's or 7-11. The individual manages and runs the business and pays the original company money every month for using its trademark and selling its products. Froggie's Express is a franchise in this novel. Bong borrowed money from Abogee to open the store and run it. But the store must adhere to rules and standards set up by the original company. 
It is a common custom in America for a girl who is dating an athlete in high school to wear his varsity letterman's jacket. Does your school still follow that custom?  (This annotation contains an image)
Using the dialogue and thoughts of one character to characterize another character is common in fiction. Explain how what Chan says to Young about Mikko further characterizes Mikko. 


Might this be foreshadowing? Watch the video below on foreshadowing and think about what might happen later with Rom.  (This annotation contains a video)


You've seen these, right?  (This annotation contains an image)
Buddhists do not believe in one God or in many gods. Buddha himself is not a God. He is a man who lived 500 years before Christ and through his life experiences founded the religion known as Buddhism. His followers greatly respect and show honor to Buddha, but do not worship him. The Buddha was dedicated to ending human suffering and came to believe that each of us must become one with the universe and its never-ending cycle to ultimately find peace and happiness. Many Buddhists do believe in God and practice the many facets of Buddhism, like the "Eight- Fold path" below.  (This annotation contains an image)
Sometimes making or not making the extra point after a touchdown dictates who wins. 
The expression "spun our wheels" means here that __________________________. 
Based on the context, who are "the zebras"? 
This means that even if the Miners score and get the extra point (7), the score will still be 20-22. If the Miners score and also make a two -point conversion, the score will be 21-22. So it still comes down to the extra point that Chan failed to make on that first touchdown. 
Do you think this kind of racism against a player is realistic? Or do you think the writer may be dramatizing the situation to make the story more suspenseful? 
A field goal (3pts) would put the Miners ahead, 23-22. This means it's all on Chan's shoulders. This seems to be a typical plot situation: a major game comes down to one player, usually the main character of the book. How do you think it will turn out? 


The writer never tells us that the field goal was good and the Miners won the game. But as readers we know they won. List three details from the highlighted section that show the Miners won. 
Read the following poem, "Notes for a Poem on Being an Asian American" by Dwight Okita. Pay special attention to the metaphor that Okita uses and prepare to answer a quiz question about it later. (This annotation contains a link)


This sentence contains a certain type of figurative language to describe the rain. What do we call this literary device? 
What was an earlier sign that something was wrong in this chapter? 


Young's accidental death was NOT something we were expecting at all. This is definitely a major plot twist. 


Make a prediction about what Chan grabbed out of Young's room. 
Did you make the prediction that the narrator would place Young's flute in the casket? 
Explain why this is uncharacteristic of Abogee. 


Below is a picture of potica.  (This annotation contains an image)
What can we infer from this remark by Abogee? 


This is a reference to the story of Moses parting the Red Sea for his people to pass through. What is this type of literary device called? 
What do you think Young would say to Chan if she could talk to him about how he is feeling? 
Can you make a text-to-self connection here? Have you been in either Chan's or Coach's position? Are there words that can make someone who has lost a family member feel better?  
This information helps us still really like Mikko. Going on playing football is his way of dealing with his grief. His father, evidently, is the same way. This means that Mikko is not being shallow or uncaring. 


Provide two details from this page that are clues to readers that Chan is dreaming. 
Maybe the death of Young will bring Chan and his father together. 


Explain how this information changes our opinion of Rom. 
What do Jimmi and Chan have in common? 


What part of the plot are we approaching in this novel? 


This refers to the "Twin Cities" in Minnesota, a nickname for both Minneapolis, the larger city, and St. Paul. Both cities are on opposite banks of the Mississippi River.  (This annotation contains an image)
The Mall of America has over 400 stores! It is located in Bloomington, Minnesota. Below you can see it has four floors. (This annotation contains an image)


Which is the most likely reason the novel jumps right into the middle of the game? 
This is symbolic of who/what? 


Final Quiz