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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

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  247 Ratings  ·  31 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
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Hardcover, 352 pages
Published April 23rd 2002 by Harmony
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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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 sh!t) 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
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Rinda Rinda
Mar 19, 2007 Rinda Rinda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Catherine
Jan 08, 2009 Catherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Jaclyn
Apr 27, 2009 Jaclyn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
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.
Tami
Aug 31, 2008 Tami rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jeffrey Ogden Thomas
May 29, 2014 Jeffrey Ogden Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in North-South relations
Recommended to Jeffrey by: Jin Park
A necessary follow-up -- almost a sequel -- to Still Life With Rice, this gives a surprisingly detailed and lengthy narrative of the author's family efforts to bring relatives out of North Korea. Some of the maudlin confessional may seem intrusive, but it adds to the pathos of the whole scene, heightening the emotional temperature while also acting as a sort of parallel to the attitudes about the North Korean family members.

Because I traveled to the border area last spring, I could picture the
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Tamara Fowler
The story of Helie and her family's arduous journey to free her long lost uncle and his family from the harsh realities of North Korea was captivating and heart wrenching. This story is a follow up to her first novel, which sadly, is the underlying reason for the rescue described in this novel. Her uncle was in North Korea and if found to have family in the U.S.A. it could be fatal to him. Having lived in South Korea for a number of years I was aware of the realities of the North but this book i ...more
Melony
Mar 09, 2009 Melony rated it really liked it  ·  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.
Teresa
Jan 26, 2016 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I started this book thinking that it would be about the author's journey of finding her family, but she takes you on her journey of finding herself as well. A great read for anyone (especially a woman) who feels torn between all the different directions life seems to be pulling them in. By the end of it, you will feel like you are on a first name basis with Helie, wishing you could meet up with her for coffee...Your independent, feminist side will love her strength, and your romantic side will h ...more
Judy
Jan 20, 2010 Judy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Becky
Oct 18, 2007 Becky rated it really liked it
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.
Barbara
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.
Ann
Apr 11, 2012 Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Christine
Jun 13, 2013 Christine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Alicia
May 27, 2009 Alicia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Cheryl
Feb 14, 2016 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Immersive true story of a Korean-American woman's attempt to smuggle her relatives out of North Korea. A glimpse into the impoverished country, rife with human rights abuses, that we don't hear about enough in the news.
Cheryl
Mar 27, 2012 Cheryl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Cynthia
Nov 29, 2010 Cynthia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Laurel
Jan 20, 2009 Laurel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Kerry taylor
Oct 17, 2007 Kerry taylor rated it liked it  ·  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.
Angella
Jun 23, 2009 Angella rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Alicia
Mar 12, 2008 Alicia rated it liked it  ·  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.
Vicki Seamons
Feb 06, 2013 Vicki Seamons rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Tal
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.
Laura
Sep 22, 2007 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  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!
Cynthia
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Audra rated it really liked it
Mar 12, 2008
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