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Meet Sae Young, our next narrator. She's got quite the story to tell about moving from Korea to Cleveland.
To start off, Sae Young has a big family (five sisters) and oodles of friends back in Korea. But she and her hubby leave all this behind to move to the U.S. and start a dry cleaning store. Sae Young works long hours, but she digs her new life, especially because she gets to work with her husband. Plus, she doesn't need to speak too much English in the dry cleaning shop, which is a bonus for her since she doesn't feel like that's her strong suit.
Okay, most of our stories haven't stayed happy for long, so you're probably figuring this one is about to get gloomy soon. And you'd be right.
Sae Young and her husband have a hard time having kids, and then her husband dies of a heart attack when he's super young. Seriously tragic stuff here.
And it only gets worse: Sae Young is robbed at gunpoint in her dry cleaning shop one day. And the jerk beats her up, too. So now Sae Young doesn't like to be around people, and we can't blame her. In fact, Sae Young stops seeing everyone, friends included. She only opens her door to collect the food her neighbor buys her, and she hires someone to watch the shop.
And how long has it been since Sae Young spent some considerable time outside? Nearly two years. Our gal sure is having a tough time.
Slowly, Sae Young starts to venture out again. And then something happens to make her really want to venture outside: she happens across that awesome Gibb Street community garden. In fact, she notices a "Vietnamese girl […] picking beautiful lima beans" (8.3). Sae Young doesn't know yet that this is Kim, but we sure do.
The garden gets Sae Young out and about again. She starts working on her own little plot, growing hot peppers just "like in Korea" (8.4). For a while, she just enjoys listening to others talk, but she never joins in. Eventually, a dude named Sam comes to say hi. Oh hey, Sam from Chapter 6, nice to see you again.
Sae Young tells us that Sam starts a contest with the kids to see if they can figure out a way to collect water for the garden. (This book sure does want to turn us into sleuths. Remember how Sam mentioned a "contest" back in his story (6.4)? Go check it out and then come back here for the full tale.) So Sam gets this contest going and the kids get seriously into it. After all, there is a cash prize.
On a Saturday, Sam lets all the kids share their ideas. With each idea, there's a whole bunch of chatter about how much the plans will cost. The community definitely agrees that the plan can't be super expensive, because there's no point in wasting money.
Eventually we have a winner: a "little black girl say to let rain from spouts go into garbage cans" (8.6). This idea is perfect, and everyone chips in to buy some garbage cans. This community garden is seriously coming together.
The next day, the neighbors get to test out their new plan because they get a huge storm. The cans fill up with water, and everyone is happy.
Sae Young realizes that buying funnels will help people pour the water out of the cans. So she does just that and lets everyone use the funnels. Not only is this garden coming together, but our gal Sae Young is a part of it.