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All Woman and Springtime

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  931 ratings  ·  181 reviews
Before she met Il-sun in an orphanage, Gi was a hollow husk of a girl, broken from growing up in one of North Korea’s forced-labor camps. A mathematical genius, she learned to cope with pain by retreating into a realm of numbers and calculations, an escape from both the past and the present. Gi becomes enamored of the brash and radiant Il-sun, a friend she describes as “al ...more
Hardcover, 434 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Algonquin (first published January 1st 2012)
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The ways in which this book is not good are many. The prose is really overblown. There are some descriptions that truly baffled me with their excessive ornament. Rarely does the story seem authentic. The violence doesn't so much shock as seem... rote. The novel feels more like a book designed to bring an awareness to sexual slavery rather than a story about the women involved. The message of the book is earnest but the message also dominates the story like an after school special. There's no sen ...more
Apr 15, 2012 aya rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: work
One of the worst kind of books, in my opinion--a bad example of what can happen when women are written by white men who think they "get" women and the minority experience. It is the colonialism of 2012, when being overly-PC can exonerate a conscience and mask condescension.
The book is over-thought in every way, starting from the over-explication of the characters' "depth" to the way he shows the positive sides of each situation, including living in North Korea and working as a sex slave in Sout
A mesmerizing book that many will find hard to read. Gi, the main character, changes from a brutalized, terrified 10 year old to a near catatonic teen to a woman of untapped strength in this tale of a North Korean girl condemned and then rescued from a concentration camp. She finds a friend in the orphanage but when it is their time to leave the orphanage and strike out on their own, they are betrayed by Il-Sun’s lover and sold into trafficking in South Korea. When they try to escape they are tr ...more
Sex trafficking is a horrific and serious global human rights issue, and reading about it is not- all woman and springtime. However, this book was foremost interesting for its depiction of women in North Korea. While I cannot speak to its veracity, it was genuinely shocking and fascinating to learn about the dramatic repression and lies believed by the North Koreans, it is an island onto itself.
The story of these four Korean women and the awful exploitation they experience after being sold int
All woman and springtime is how North Korean orphan Gi sees her friend, the beautiful Il-Sun. They are seventeen and about to leave the orphanage to embark on the closest thing they can expect to have to an independent life under their repressive regime. Without ranking parentage, they cannot expect too much from their impending future, but even these faint hopes are dashed when they find themselves abruptly sold into the sex trade.

I was drawn into their story from the first pages. Jones skillfu
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Betrayal, brainwashing, corruption, hardships, fear, innocence, and poverty.

These words make up the life of Il-sun and Gi. Il-sun was wealthy at one time, but the death of her parents left her with no songbun and no status. Gi was poor from birth and her family was accused by the government of not being loyal to the Great Leader and put into prison. Both girls ended up in an orphanage and worked in a sewing factory. When a slick trafficker deceives Il-sun, she and Gi end up in South Korea and a
All Woman and Springtime is the first novel by Brandon W. Jones who has taken on the topics of North Korea and human trafficking in one big gulp of a story. The story centers on two young women who are about to age out of a women's orphanage in North Korea.

Gi (Gyong-ho) was orphaned in a concentration camp after inadvertently revealing a trivial infraction by her family's care of "the Dear Leader's" portrait hanging in their had dust on it. Her torture in the camp is graphically descri
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Esther Bradley-detally
i think this is Brandon W. Jones' first novel - and it is an excellent one. I have been laying low and just put myself on vakashun, which translates to "inhale books." Key themes/subjects are North Korea, young girls, human trafficking and sexual slavery - and as such, there's a warning in the novel, "may not be suitable for young readers."

It is painful, heartrending, courageous, truthful, and triumphant on some levels. I write this review from Pasadena, California, where a year or so ago, I hea
I am not a huge fan of contemporary stories - I prefer historical fiction. This wonderful story was lyrical, insightful and full of troubled characters. Mind control, political expediency, war and poverty all play a role in the victimized-victims and the victimizing-victims. The pain inflicted on others when self-preservation is the largest goal - is a double edged sword - cutting and clearing a path of human emotions and compassion leaving behind, dangling, bruised and hardened hearted people - ...more
Andrea Mullarkey
I do love a bleak story and when I read a review of this book about human trafficking in North Korea I thought for sure this book would be for me. And sure enough it opens on a pair of young women living in an orphanage in North Korea and working under an exacting boss at a factory sewing pants. Their lives are meager, their histories disappointing and their futures hold little promise in spite of their personal efforts and charms. In the second part of the book, things go from bad to worse. The ...more
Lately, I've been fascinated by Korean culture. All of this stemmed from reading a book set in Korea. I chose this book as a result of my recent interest. Also, this book was partially set in North Korea and this appealed to me even more.

I was a bit worried when I read the cover and realized the main characters were eventually sold into sex slavery. It was a subject I didnt particularly want to read about. Mainly, because I know it is real and happens under our noses.

I am happy that I chose to
DNF. the horror of human trafficking and sexual enslavement of young women in North Korea to South Korea and beyond could not overcome the stilted writing. this book is a prime example of how the "show, not tell" rule was violated many a time. actions by characters, esp. the villains, were over explained.

"The foreman stood in front of the busy seamstresses, scowling. The joints of his damaged leg were aching with particular vengeance. There must be a storm coming, he thought. He was a man who m
Sara Smith
I really wanted to give this 4.5 stars and then I realized I have this bad habit of wanting to mark down books because I don't like the subject material versus it just not being a good book. This book is haunting, horrifying, and next-to-impossible to put down. I started reading it when my kids went down for nap and only planned to read a chapter which turned into 2.5 hours later when my kids want a snack and I'm still tired, but outraged of human trafficking across the world even in the United ...more
Cindy Powell
I have mixed feelings about this book. It is the author's first novel, so I should indulge some mistakes here and there. I'm bothered by too many perspectives. I would have liked to have had more focus on the two main characters. Sometimes I feel they got lost in the story, and what I mean by that, is my emotional connection to them got lost. Jones hits the mark by exposing the sexual trafficking of young girls, and especially unflinchingly ties prostitution directly to Internet pornography. Goo ...more
I read the Kindle version of this book and it was a very quick read - I finished it on a 5 hour flight between New York and LA. It's interesting to get a look at North Korean society, but I have to say that some of the descriptions had me wondering, "Is it really this extreme? Are people really this sheltered from the outside world?" And I don't know enough politically to be able to answer that question.

The plight of the two main characters is definitely compelling, though the story overall happ
Bonnie Brody
North Korea is a place of severe hardship, where food is in very short supply and the hierarchy of life is a given. The life of the people in North Korea is known as Chosun and Songbun is their status. "Juche was the cornerstone on which the great Chosun nation was founded. It was a philosophy of self-sufficiency and cultural superiority - the ideal socialism". All the citizens are expected to worship the Great Leader and not prostrating oneself in front of a photograph of him is enough to be se ...more
Story Description:

Algonquin Books|April 25, 2012|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-1-61620-077-0

Before she met Il-sun in an orphanage, Gi was a hollow husk of a girl, broken from growing up in one of North Korea’s forced labour camps. A mathematical genius, she has learned to cope with pain by retreating into a realm of numbers and calculations, an escape from both the past and present. Gi becomes enamored of the brash and radiant II-sun, a friend she describes as all woman and springtime. But II-sun’s pursui
The book immediately draws readers with its detailed descriptions about the constant mind control and deceptions of daily life in North Korea. So it's stunning to realize that greater indignities can be suffered in the wealthy and democratic lands of Seoul and Seattle. The lack of education and naivete trap three young North Korean women as much as locked doors and armed guards do. Fear, insecurity, gullibility, youth provide handy targets for those who want to profit from trafficking and prosti ...more
Kim Overstreet
I have been staring at my computer for about half an hour, just trying to find words that adequately convey how profoundly this story moved me. Beautifully written, Jones' debut novel is a coming of age story about Gi, a North Korean girl with a propensity for mathematics. Gi goes from a labor camp to an orphanage to South Korea and Seattle as a sex slave. The story offers a beautiful study of contrasts, as Gi grows up experiencing the worst humanity has to offer, but also acts of kindness and f ...more
An eye-opening read, All Woman in Springtime tells the story of two North Korean orphans who are tricked and sold into the sex trade in South Korea and eventually, America. Dealing with unfathomable abuses and personal battles of identity, friendship gives the two heroines strength and together, they hold onto hope for a future of freedom, whatever that is.
Excellent character development but a highly improbable ending, All Woman moves at a decent and steady pace after getting off to a slow star
Diane S.
3.5 Many aspects of this novel were of interest to me, the setting in North and South Korea, the conditions and treatments in the prisoner's camps, the lack of food and freedom, and the story of the two girls in the orphanage. Il-Sun and Gi, meet in an orphanage, having traveled very different paths in their youth, and this is very much their story. Some of the parts were very difficult to read, the sexual slavery they became entrapped in but Gi manages to stay sane because she is a mathematical ...more
Incredible. Each character's story was so nuanced and authentic- deeply felt and painful lives without needless sentimentality. How a man who has never been to North Korea could write a story so poignant about women is... unbelievable.

If you have the least interest in North Korea, I HIGHLY recommend this book. You can get a feeling for the lives of those who live in and are the real North Korea, without all the tainted opinions of diplomats and politicians. After all- isn't it so that the ordina
This novel is one of the most compelling I have ever read, not only because of an incredibly moving (and unfortunately authentic) story but also because of the incredible accuracy of details regarding North Korean life. The author managed to portray the widely unknown truths of both North Korea and human trafficking through an emotional plot which will keep you glued to the pages. Jones has created an extremely rare portal into the real lives of millions of suffering North Korean citizens and th ...more
Julia Park
After I finished reading this book I stayed slumped on the sofa for a while to let the weight of the novel release me. It's a tough read but also a mesmerizing one. I think the author does an admirable job of handling the difficult themes and characters. It goes without saying that it would take so much skill to write believably as three North Korean women turned into prostitutes as a white man living in Hawaii. That said, I am aware that the University of Hawaii is home to the largest research ...more
From North Korea, South Korea, and finally to Seattle, Washington, a disturbing book. Life wasn't easy for Il-sun and Gi in a North Korea orphanage. Il-sun had come from a privileged lifestyle until her mother died and left her an orphan at which time all her hopes of marrying well and maintaining that lifestyle dry up. Gi's been left an orphan after her family has been arrested for not paying proper respect to the Great Leader and Dear Leader's portraits. Grandmother, parents, and herself wound ...more
I was very interested in getting to the end of this book to discover the fate of Gi but the end came all too soon for more and was a little bit of a what the ? Moment. Otherwise, this was one of my favorite reads of the summer. I kept forgetting that the story is set in current times and that makes it more interesting but relevant. A story about perseverance and over come odds.
Tarrant Figlio
Five stars because it is a don't miss read. (If you can get through the fact that it deserves a *trigger* warning for graphic sexual abuse and sex trafficking.)

I waffled a bit on rating though. The end was rushed. The beginning was a bit too flowery prose. I am also not sure Gi's sexual attraction to Il-Sun needed to be included to make us understand Gi and Il-sun's relationship.
Hmmmm - I don't think this book lived up to its promise. The first section, set in North Korea, was intriguing. I have not read very much about what life is like there and what the residents are taught about the Great Leader, the Dear Leader, and the rest of the world outside the Hermit Kingdom. Assuming the author did his research, I felt like I was getting a glimpse of how it's possible to subjugate an entire population through disinformation.

Once the action shifts to South Korea and then to A
I am ambivalent about this novel. It talks about North Korea and life there and then switches focus to South Korea and the exploitation of women. The chapters are short so it does not ape pseudo-serious chunky proses so one can read through it pretty quickly but I was looking for more insights into the lives of North Koreans.
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