In the Absence of Sun: A Korean American Woman's Promise to Reunite Three Lost Generations of Her Family
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In the Absence of Sun: A Korean American Woman's Promise to Reunite Three Lost Generations of Her Family

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  187 ratings  ·  25 reviews
A breathtaking true story of a rescue mission undertaken by a young woman and her family in one of the most repressive countries in the world.

Helie Lee often had heard her grandmother speak of an uncle, lost decades ago when he was a child during the family’s daring escape from North Korea. As an adult, he was still living there under horrid conditions. When her grandmothe...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 23rd 2002 by Harmony
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La Petite Américaine
This book was so poorly written, so full of typos and grammatical errors, and the story so goddamn boring that I literally question the fact that Helie Lee wrote Still Life With Rice at all. The differences between the two books are so vast (think one of the best contemporary memoris of all time contrasted with, well, a bag of literary dog shit) that I'm really inclined to think that Still Life With Rice was dictated to or translated from Korean to English by Lee.

Save yourself the time and the...more
I really enjoyed reading Helie Lee's first book, Still Life With Rice, about her grandmother's life. This book is told from Helie's point of view and details the Lee family's long and tedious ordeal in assisting their relatives' escape from North Korea.

Where the story faltered was in Helie's immaturity both in her writing and personality. I found some of her descriptions exaggerated and overly dramatic and bordering on soap opera scenarios when it came to her romantic encounters. I would have pr...more
Rinda Rinda
I remember in 1997 watching a special news report in Taegu, South Korea about a multi-generational family of 12 that defected from North Korea.

Years later I found this book for 25 cents at a neighborhood garage sale, half way across the world, in Brooklyn, NY.

It wasn't until the later half of the book that I realized that this was the same family that I had watched on the news a decade ago.

As a Korean-American, the issues of re-unification and the US foreign policy with N. Korea are delicate...more
The idea of the story had so much promise, but it was really not written well. The last couple chapters were the most well written...too bad the rest of the book wasn't. Perhaps she was just too close to the story to leave out some of the frivolous details that didn't need to be there.
Interesting how Helie can make a book about her uncle's escape from North Korea all about her. If she had written more than a couple of pages about her uncle, it would have been better.
Mar 21, 2009 Melony rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the Koreas
Recommended to Melony by: Natalie Gifford
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I loved Still Life With Rice so much, I have had this sequel on my to read list for forever. And while it was nice to complete this family's path to freedom, I didn't love it as much. Mostly because it was more about Helie than her Grandma and her story. It drug on in parts during her long winded self exploration. But in all, I got a lump in my throat reading about the family's reunion after so many years and such horrific tragedies.
This was really interesting to read while in South Korea. I only gave it four stars because I didn't like the parts of the book that dealt with Helie's search for herself although I see how that was so intertwined (for her at least) with her family's escape that she had to leave it in. I wish it had included more details from the defectors on their lives in North Korea but maybe they weren't comfortable sharing more than what is already in the book.
Although this was a sequel, a true story of her and her family's attempt to get her uncle's family out of North Korea, the book was too self-promoting. I understand she had a lot of her own personal feelings and struggles she faced in undertaking this huge and highly illegal feat but I wanted to hear more about the actual events that took place and the voices of her family members who she helped escape.
Follow up to Still Life with Rice. Need to read Still Life with Rice first. This book is very interesting. The perspective of the writer as an American and view of North Korea during current day. After reading both of the books by Helie Lee (enjoyed them very much as stories), I feel I have a better understanding of history and happenings past and current. Both books are true stories.
Cynthia Vissers
Loved reading this one...couldn't put it down! Amazing story of how the author's family in North Korea began contact after her first book, Still Life with Rice", and the journey of them meeting and eventually defecting from North Korea. Heartbreaking and sweet all at the same time!
This book is a follow-up to "Still Life With Rice". In this book the author recounts her experiences helping her relatives escape North Korea. It's hard to believe that a people could be so brainwashed in this modern world as the people of North Korea have been.
another amazing book by helie lee. this time she herself is going to korea to find (and smuggle out) the her uncle who was left in north korea during the war. it's crazy--what she did, what she risked, what happened. everything.
This book was fabulous!! Painful and eye opening in many respects. The author gives away the ending about midway through the book but I still found myself on the edge of my seat at times. Highly recommend.
Fantastic sequel to Still Life with Rice. The story itself is more compelling and less compelling than the first book. I want to meet Lee -- she is an amazing, strong woman.
Sep 22, 2007 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoyed the first book
this story is a much more personal and raw account straight from the author's life...a slightly different feel from the first book but also very enjoyable and engaging!
Kerry taylor
Oct 17, 2007 Kerry taylor rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who liked the first book
I was really torn between three and four stars with this. If you liked the first one you must read this. You'll be glad you did. It gives you some closure.
Aug 06, 2007 Tal added it
I don't care how good Still Life With Rice was, Helie Lee should never be allowed to write first person ever again. Ever again.
Vicki Seamons
What a fantastic story. This is what non-fiction should be! This should be on everyone's to read list. I hope she writes another book,
This is a must-read follow up to Helie's first book, Still Life with Rice. Her story has stuck with me and always will. Enjoy!
Mar 12, 2008 Alicia rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who doesn't know much about North Korea
Recommended to Alicia by: Loree Katahara
Not as good as Still Life with Rice. But I was shocked to read about what life in North Korea is like.
Wow! Such a look at current life in N. Korea. :( Helps to to know how to pray!
Christina Vidlund
Wish the pics were at the end!! Fascinating though, loved the story!
May 29, 2009 Laura marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Follow-up to Still Life with Rice.
the continuing story...
Couldn't put it down.
Loved this book
Leah Halkett
Leah Halkett marked it as to-read
Jul 20, 2014
Eflee marked it as to-read
Jul 16, 2014
Saniye marked it as to-read
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Still Life With Rice: A Young American Woman Discovers the Life and Legacy of Her Korean Grandmother

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