*Changing my rating on 5/13/11 to 5 stars. In retrospect, this book was a game changer for my understanding of N. Korea.*
A solid 4 star book - the sto*Changing my rating on 5/13/11 to 5 stars. In retrospect, this book was a game changer for my understanding of N. Korea.*
A solid 4 star book - the stories of 6 defectors of North Korea told in a semi-chronological story of what has been happening in DPRK since the Korean War.
I found it fascinating (as I do with all different cultures) but especially for the ways their communism is different from other countries that I've read about. I also didn't realize some of the major discrepancies between North/South Korea vs. East/West Germany - like the fact that the GDP differential is more than 4 times greater than East/West Germany ever was, or the fact that the average height of a 17 year old boy in South Korea is more than 5 inches taller than the average in North Korea - a result of the poor food resources.
I thought that religious aspect of the leaders idealogical blasts was very interesting, and through the book a great respect grew for the people who have gone from Kim Jong-Il sheepies, to free thinking people. I don't think there is anywhere in the world where it is more difficult to have had an intellectual awakening - since there has been virtually no outside influence until very recently.
Definitely thought provoking, and a very easy read, considering it is non-fiction....more
I'm facing a conundrum with this review. I have some very ambivalent feelings (in the true sense of the word) so I'm going to do a good old list.
LikesI'm facing a conundrum with this review. I have some very ambivalent feelings (in the true sense of the word) so I'm going to do a good old list.
Likes: - I am a sucker for star-crossed lover themes. Total total sucker. When I was a little kid, I used to watch the Olivia Hussey version of Romeo and Juliet every day - and if you've ever seen it, it's actually not good, but I could. not. stop. watching. it. This book, with a love story that spanned 1500ish years and many lives absolutely hit my sweet spot.
- I thought the premise was intriguing - there were several small moments in the book that captivated me - like a woman driving 15 miles to a cemetary every day to visit her long dead husband's grave, when he was actually working at the 7-Eleven a mile from her home as a new person. Just made you go hmmm.
- I really liked the depth of characterization from an interesting perspective. To learn the deepening of soul, and see people's fears and needs from past lives carry through was interesting. I also liked the way the secondary characters helped to shape Lucy and Daniel. I really found the book terribly fascinating.
Dislikes: - Cliff hanger. Minus 1.
- I wish there had been more time that they actually spent together in the present.
- Apparently, this book was originally supposed to be a trilogy, but it's the ONLY book she's ever published that isn't a best seller (I've never read the traveling pants stories) so her publishers aren't keen to publish books 2 and 3 - and that leads me to my conundrum.
See, I NEED to read the rest of the story. It was good enough that I was hunting for a release date before I even read the acknowledgements - and I love the acknowledgements! I hate cliff hangers with a passion, and I have a rule that I refuse to loan out books to people if the there's an unresolvable cliff hanger (meaning the next book hasn't come out). But, if the publisher is saying she needs to sell more books before she can write the sequel, then I want every single person I know to read this book! That makes me want to rate the book higher, because I want it to be enticing, but I also have a rule that all cliff hangers go down a star, because I'm convinced authors will stop writing them if I penalize enough. Damnit, I'm influential in books now, Klout says so. What to do?!
Pre-cliff hanger, I would have called this a high 4 star. Not life altering, but really enjoyable. Marking it up to a 5 would put it in a very high category with books of a caliber that it just didn't quite reach (last couple of HP books, Cloud Atlas, Gone with the Wind, etc) but marking it down makes it a ho hum 3 - decent, enjoyable, nothing spectacular. As much as I hate to do it, I think I'm going to have to stay true to my rules for consistency sake, and mark it with 3 stars, but it WAS better than that!
Please read it. I need to read the next one! ...more
**spoiler alert** Even better the second time around - 10/29/12
This is an exceptional book - well deserved 5 stars, and one of the best fiction books**spoiler alert** Even better the second time around - 10/29/12
This is an exceptional book - well deserved 5 stars, and one of the best fiction books I've read. It has an unusual story-telling method, but if you enjoy the mechanics of a story as much as the story itself, you'll love this. The book is written as six different novellas: Adam Ewing - 1830's - New South Wales; Robert Frobisher - 1920's - Belgium; Luisa Rey - 1970's - San Francisco; Timothy Cavendish - present day - London; Sonmi 451 - Future - Koreas; Zachry Bailey - Post-Apocalyptic Hawaii. What's absolutely fascinating is that each novella is written in an entirely different genre/prose/style. If you had asked six different authors to each write a fictional story you could not have had more diverse mini-novels. Even better, is the way they are presented in the book. You start reading the first novella (which I'll admit was a bit flowery and tough to get into) and just after it hooks you, mid paragraph, mid sentence - the book flips to the next novella. Then you start the next one, get hooked, and move on to the third, mid-story. Then the next, and the next. You read the sixth story in totality, and then you get to finish the novels, from the fifth to the first. By the time I got through the first half of the fourth novella (my favorite) I was going out of my mind with desire to figure out what was going on, how these stories were going to end, and how they were connected. I was completely in the dark - had no idea what was going on - but I HAD to finish it!
Though there is a relationship between stories, on the surface it is a fairly loose relationship. Cloud Atlas is monumental, however, because through the six diverse stories, it provides the same over arching message. Man is inherently flawed. Our society (no matter what, when, or where) is about separation and bigotry, and that the only way we can survive the future is by changing how we think about the people around us - and hoping that catches on. Throughout the stories, different people rule, but someone always does. In each story, there is a higher class and a lower class of people - and the discrepancies are clear regardless of whether you're reading a letter, biography, mystery/thriller, or science fiction. However, it is done so subtley that only towards the end of the novellas do you really start to see the connection.
Sonmi 451's story rocked me. I wish there had been an entire book just looking at her situation.
It was a fascinating book, and I'm definitely going to read it again. I'm having a hard time not picking it right back up and starting over!...more
I have always enjoyed Lisa Ling's work, from the time that I was a student watching her on Channel One News. I had been aware of her sister Laura, andI have always enjoyed Lisa Ling's work, from the time that I was a student watching her on Channel One News. I had been aware of her sister Laura, and Euna Lee's arrest in North Korea, and signed a petition asking the DPRK's government to release them. This is Laura's story of what happened and what she experienced while in North Korea, as well as Lisa's story of doing everything in her power - including yanking nearly every string that she could pull from political and media contacts.
I thought that the book was written in easy prose, and captivated me because it covered not only the political wrangling, communist countries from the inside (something that fascinates me), and the love of two siblings when one of them got into serious trouble and the other one was going crazy trying to save her (why would that be familiar?.
This didn't get five stars because it wasn't a life-altering novel, but I did consider it. It was obvious that the DPRK treated Laura quite well (after the initial arrest) and that that they were concerned that she feel like she was being treated well, so the US would know that they were taking care of her. I'm incredibly interested in how Euna Lee was treated, since she is Korean, and spoke Korean. Her book isn't released until Septermber, but I'll definitely be reading it when it comes out....more
Enjoyable easy read. I would have given it 3.5 stars if that were possible.
This is the story of Shoko, a japanese bride of an American soldier duringEnjoyable easy read. I would have given it 3.5 stars if that were possible.
This is the story of Shoko, a japanese bride of an American soldier during the post-WWII era, and her life assimilating to San Diego, told from the perspective of her later life. You also learn about her daughter, Suiko (Sue) as she travels to Japan representing her mother, and her perspective of her upbringing and her mother.
It wasn't an overwhelming/powerful/emotional book, like a Lisa See novel would be, but it was an interesting premise, and I loved the chapter starting quotes from the "How to be an American Housewife" book. It was a quick easy read, and I enjoyed it....more
This was one of those "classic" Eileen books that as soon as I saw it, I snatched it up and refused to let it go.
This is the fictional story of Kim ChThis was one of those "classic" Eileen books that as soon as I saw it, I snatched it up and refused to let it go.
This is the fictional story of Kim Chung, who moved to NYC with her mom from Hong Kong as a child. The book is about her reconciling the two parts of herself - the hard working straight A student, with the all night factory laborer who lives in a cockroach infested apartment with no windows and no heat.
The aspects of the book that I found most fascinating were her determination to better her families circumstances, and the impact of that on her childhood - the decisions that she made to socially separate herself because of her fear of obligation of showing people her home, missing out on normal childhood activities, sports, sleepovers, movies, etc because she needed to help earn money for them to survive. She was a character that I could respect and admire for making the choices she felt she needed to and rarely looking back.
It wasn't quite a knock your socks off read, so it gets four stars. I may have also been impacted by the fact that I misread/misunderstood the prologue and so I spent the entire book asking myself which decision that she made was the mistake that changed her path to becoming a factory worker for life....more
This is the true story of Wong Jade Snow, the fifth daughter of a chinese family, who was born and raised in ChinatAnother good book from my neighbor.
This is the true story of Wong Jade Snow, the fifth daughter of a chinese family, who was born and raised in Chinatown, San Francisco. The story was told in an unusual third person, because she spoke of her family - Daddy, Mother, Prosperity, with first person knowledge, but referred to herself as Jade Snow throughout. It took a little bit to get used to, but once you were in the story was very interesting.
The story starts when she is quite young, and shows the clear differences between life and expectations at home vs. with the "foreigners" (I thought this term was classic, since they were living in San Francisco). She is a dedicated young learner, though as her brother says she has no creativity or personality, but takes that drive and shows them all that she is not only a valuable part of the family, but that she can be a success in her own way. Without her family's support, she put herself through college, worked successfully for teh Navy during WWII, and started her own business, which allowed her to write this book.
I think it was most interesting because it was a true story, and she wrote about her life from a perspective that showed the depth of other people's feelings as well as her own.
I thought that this book would be great - it had a fascinating premise, as a living version of the sang e saboor. Unfortunately, the reality just didnI thought that this book would be great - it had a fascinating premise, as a living version of the sang e saboor. Unfortunately, the reality just didn't hit the mark.
It was too short, not deep enough, and unrelateable - I think because of the way it was written. It was almost like a very long poem that didn't rhyme or follow any rhythm, if that makes sense.
The story is told from a third party perspective, and the entire story takes place in a room - and you only read about what is said- which is basically a woman's monologue to herself as she cares for her husband in a coma, which gets increasingly bizarre as she relates more and more of her secrets as the story goes on.
I'm sure that in Afghanistan, this is a book that would be shocking, as it covered some topics in a way that I don't think the people would appreciate. As for me though, I felt no sense of relationship to the woman because it was so choppy.
Utterly and completely unreadable. This is based on the life of Easern Jewel, Yoshiko Kawashi, who was a cold and heartless ______ (feel free to fillUtterly and completely unreadable. This is based on the life of Easern Jewel, Yoshiko Kawashi, who was a cold and heartless ______ (feel free to fill in the blank, they are all true). Not only could I not relate to this character, but her calculating and careless destruction of other people's live sickened me.
The author was trying to write from this woman's perspective, which must have been quite a challange, but the way the "character" thought about things just - it just wasn't human.
I'll never ever read this again. I got about halfway through and just tossed it....more
This is the story of Somaly Mam, a Phnong woman from Cambodia who was sold to a brothel as a child by her "Grandfather". The book is not only about heThis is the story of Somaly Mam, a Phnong woman from Cambodia who was sold to a brothel as a child by her "Grandfather". The book is not only about her time as a sex slave, but also about how she got away and the way that she began to free and protect women and girls (as young as 5)who had been products of the sex trafficing trade.
There are some poignant memories, small examples of deep relationships and the way that she and other girls have been impacted in life. There was also a cultural awareness and understanding of why parents sell their children and anger over their reasons.
The reason that I gave this a four rather than a five was because there was a lack of deep explanations - I think because the Cambodian culture frowns on "sharing" hardships - and also because it was fairly short - under 200 pgs. Though I would have liked to have learned more about what is going on and why and how, and the impact on these girls, I don't think it would have been fair to ask for more from a people who are so tight lipped. Still, I'm very glad that Somaly told her story, and I will continue supporting NGO's that are working to free women and girls who have been sold - somaly.org, and iSanctuary.org...more