A Step From Heaven by An Na is a multi award winning debut novel first published in April 2001 by Front Street Incorporated. A contemporary, young adulA Step From Heaven by An Na is a multi award winning debut novel first published in April 2001 by Front Street Incorporated. A contemporary, young adult, cultural work of fiction about a young Korean girl and her families journey to leave everything and everyone they know behind in a small fishing village in Korea for the hope of a better and brighter future in California, North America. One hundred and seventy-six pages stretch just over a decade in Young Ju's life as she struggles to navigate, assimilate and emerge into not just a new culture but as a thriving independent young woman. I chose A Step From Heaven by An Na to add diversity in my reading and to broaden my experience.
Young Ju narrates her melancholy story from its humble beginning at age four living by the sea with her parents working on their boat and stories of God out of the Good Book read by her beloved Grandmother. To talk of moving to Mi Gook (America) or as daydreaming Young Ju understands it, Heaven, for a better life. A tumultuous middle struggling with the new language and friends at school juxtaposed against a downward spiral of a jealous, alcoholic and abusive father, long suffering hard working mother and spoilt arrogant younger brother in a small rented apartment that was not meant to be forever. Towards a bright future with a college scholarship after the summer and a modest but fully theirs home to come back to on weekends and vacations.
Young Ju's mother comes from a comfortable background and married into a humbler existence. She's hard working to give her children better educational opportunities so that they don't have to live the hard life she's had. Her father, an only child who's lost his father and left his ageing mother behind in Korea becomes increasingly jealous and insecure about his own worth and capacity to support his growing family especially after Young Ju's brother, Joon Ho, is born. He slacks off work and becomes an alcoholic. Physically abusive not just to his wife but to his son, Joon Ho, who he berates to be a man and not a whining girl. After getting a DUI and being arrested for spousal abuse he abandons his family and returns to Korea. Leaving Young Ju, her mother and her brother to get on with their lives which improve significantly. Young Ju loves and cares for her brother even though he is her dad's favourite, he is selfish and spiteful towards her throughout the novel but seems to have a marginal attitude adjustment at the end.
I really enjoyed the simple sentences from child Ju that gave your imagination time to paint big pictures. It did focus a lot more on Ju's home life rather than school and social situations than I anticipated. I would have liked to have read more about Ju escaping her family drama at school and with friends. The pacing was a bit off at times the leaps in events often felt jarring. The scenes between Young Ju and her Grandmother and mother were my favourite parts. I grew up in a sheltered small town that didn't start getting international notice until my twenties; now with so many nationalities living here and visiting it was nice to get a glimpse into another culture and appreciate their difficulties leaving what they know and starting again. Reading about her obnoxious brother and abusive father made me very sad even though it exists in every culture but the moments with the women in the family did serve as much needed relief and their continued hope and faith in Jesus kept them going. Overall I enjoyed this book and I hope to read more by this author in the future.
I was expecting less personal bias and service promotion and more creative techniques. It started out okay then a few historical inaccuracies and geneI was expecting less personal bias and service promotion and more creative techniques. It started out okay then a few historical inaccuracies and general statements made me uncomfortable with the author and her information.There are a few interesting techniques but nothing new if you've read even just one other Tarot 101 book. For a book dedicated to aiding intuitive bonds with the cards you'll be left disappointed and better of looking elsewhere for accurate information, I'd suggest 78 Degrees of Wisdom or Tarot 101 by Kim Huggens they are both user friendly, well respected and recommended beginner reads. This book is sadly 90% fluff and 10% regurgitated 101 stuff you get out of a little white book. Glad I only wasted money on the Kindle version and not a physical copy and shelf space that will teach me to go looking for quick break time study read. ...more
I first discovered Joan Didion's writing via Tavi Gevinson's blog, The Style Rookie, several years ago. In which Tavi talked about an essay Joan DidioI first discovered Joan Didion's writing via Tavi Gevinson's blog, The Style Rookie, several years ago. In which Tavi talked about an essay Joan Didion had written on keeping a notebook. I still have that essay saved on my computer. The first book by Joan Didion that I read was A Year of Magical Thinking, in I want to say 2012 but my Goodreads account is having a hissy fit right now so I can't be completely sure. I remembered thinking wow her writing is just something else, unique, quirky, and she thinks, wonders and questions herself the way I do - it was a Sylvia Plath moment for me. I had always intended to seek out more of her works but life as it does got in the way and the goal got pushed to the back of my head. Fast forward to October 2014 and on searching for classic literature tips for appreciation and recommendations on YouTube I come across Ashley from ClimbTheStacks and noticed her author spotlight on, you guessed it, Joan Didion. Ashley mentioned Blue Nights in the video and the description drew me in. I had previously read Joan's journey of grieving for her late husband and was drawn to Blue Nights as it was about losing her adopted daughter, Quintana. It has a melancholy and beautiful tone with many memorable and now for me bookmarked passages that I will revisit for years to come. I'm glad I got to reconnect and rediscover this inspiring author and woman. Also a thumbs up to Kimberly Farr for a pleasant and engaging narration of the audiobook. ...more