The Girl With Seven Names: A Review

December 20, 2019

 The Girl With Seven Names: Escape From North Korea by Hyeonseo Lee

the girl with seven names review.jpg

Genre/Categories: Nonfiction, Defection, Political Freedom, North Korea

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Summary:

A compelling story of escape…determination…survival…family…kindness…

In The Girl With Seven Names, Hyeonseo Lee shares her experience as a child growing up in a high-class family in North Korea. Her home bordered China and as she became a teenager, she grew more curious about life outside of North Korea. On an impulsive lark, she decides to cross the river and sneak into China to take a peek and to visit some distant relatives. Her plan to come right back to North Korea is derailed when she receives word that it is not safe to return. For the next few years, she lives as an illegal immigrant in China, working and quickly learning the language to survive. After twelve years, she risks everything to seek asylum in South Korea and to rescue her mother and brother from North Korea. To complete her dangerous mission, she receives help from a kind and generous stranger.

Amazon Rating: 4.8 Stars

My Thoughts:

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The Island of Sea Women: A Review

May 27, 2019

Have you experienced a patriarchal or matriarchal culture?

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

Island of Sea Women Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, South Korea, Women’s Roles

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Summary:

You may have read The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, or Shanghai Girls by popular author Lisa See. In The Island of Sea Women, See imagines the story of Mi-ja and Young-sook. As the story begins, we are introduced to these two young girls living on the Korean Island of Jeju. Although the girls are best friends, they come from very different backgrounds. As the girls mature, they begin working in the sea with other women in the village as part of the diving collective (the haenyo). Even though diving is dangerous, the girls are eager to be allowed to join the women of the sea as they learn the trade and follow in the tradition of the other women in the village who are the sole providers for their families. In this matriarchal culture, the men stay home, cook, and assume primary care for the children. Women take on the responsibility for providing an income from selling the bounty of their diving expeditions. It’s women who worry about the livelihood of their families and village, assume great physical risks, and take responsibility for knowing the best locations and times/conditions to dive. The  sea women dive when they are pregnant and sometimes give birth on the boat as part of their workday if necessary. The story begins in the 1930s and continues through WW11, the Korean War, and the modern technology boom. Over the decades, circumstances put the girls’ friendship under great strain and the story encompasses their entire lives. It’s a story of a unique culture, friendship, understanding, community, and a dangerous and demanding profession.

My Thoughts:

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