How much I enjoyed the book: 9/10 How well I think it was written: 10/10
It takes a powerful book to leave me speechless and this is one of them. The boHow much I enjoyed the book: 9/10 How well I think it was written: 10/10
It takes a powerful book to leave me speechless and this is one of them. The book itself isn’t very long – 261 pages – or very difficult to understand; however the actual story and writing are so profound that I can’t even begin to comment on it without going into essay mode. On the other hand, Please Look After Mother was originally written in Korean and later translated into English which unfortunately makes for awkward reading at times. I also think this is very much a book that is more easily understood with prior knowledge of Korean society and culture. Luckily, I happen to be a sucker for asian dramas and have a pretty good awareness (I would never say I fully understand or know first hand though!) of South Korean culture. If you can look past both of those factors, I assure you Please Look After Mother is a must-read.
The story itself is even more heartbreaking than the synopsis suggests. I make no exaggeration when I say that this is the saddest, yet most compelling book I’ve ever read. Please Look After Mother grabbed my heart within the first few pages, it then proceeded to gradually shave off layer after layer until all that was left was a cross section no thicker than a single strand of hair; blown away by the cold air that had taken refuge where my heart should have been. Suffice to say, once I had finished reading I felt so emotionally drained – I didn’t even have the tears left in me to cry.
The primary focus of the book is of course the Mother – though I wouldn’t call her a protagonist – which is exactly the reason that I found myself so deeply affected by the book. Your relationship with your mother is the first and most important you’ll ever have with another human, so to witness the immediate and later effects of a loss of this relationship is poignant. I know it’s something I fear myself and so I was left not only devastated, but also found myself regularly contemplating on my relationship with my own mother. It’s so easy to forget how important your mother actually is and how much she has given up for you. (Especially in Western society where children tend to be a lot more ungrateful - Super Nanny anyone?) I think this is even more meaningful in any family with a stay-at-home mother – we forget that our mothers were once like us: without responsibility, without the title of Mother and simply a woman. Not only does Please Look After Mother remind you of all of these things, but it also reminds you that your time with this precious person is limited.
Of course the symbol of the Mother can easily be replaced by your Father, Brother, Sister, Husband, Wife etc. the message remains the same, regardless....more
It didn’t take me long to finish it at just over 400 pages (including additional author content which I also decided to read) but I wouldn’t call it aIt didn’t take me long to finish it at just over 400 pages (including additional author content which I also decided to read) but I wouldn’t call it a book that I “couldn’t-put-down”.
I loved reading the book (most of the time) and I’d happily read it again, yet I don’t think it was written amazingly. Readers on Goodreads have listed How I Live Now as Chick Lit but I think it fits in better as Contemporary literature considering the “chick lit” aspects are less important in the book.
*possible spoilers from here on*
Overall, the story was something I hadn’t read before so I was more than happy to read something so different. On the other hand, I found the beginning of the book difficult to get into. I didn’t really enjoy reading the beginning few chapters until we got to adult Lydia and Dean. I felt like a lot of time was spent on Lydia’s history where it could have been distributed more evenly between the siblings. After reading the additional author content, I’m assuming that Lydia is supposed to be the main character however this isn’t completely evident in the actual book until much later. As with all books with multiple narrators, there was also a lot going on in the beginning so it became a bit confusing to keep up with the various different characters. To deal with this, I found myself regularly returning to earlier chapters to identify characters.
My favourite characters by far were Lydia and Dean; I loved them almost immediately! Their growing sibling relationships had me squealing from happiness non-stop. I loved the similarities between the two of them and the fact that their personalities mirrored each other (and the fact that they both noticed it!). In contrast, I disliked Robyn’s character when we were first introduced to her. I didn’t like her controlling ways and frankly I feel as though she was presented as the perfect teenager and was unnecessarily placed into the book simply to highlight all of the imperfections of the other two characters. Additionally, Robyn’s story seemed independent to Lydia and Dean’s and didn’t seem to fit in with them until the very end.
Speaking of things that didn’t fit in, I really really didn’t like reading the chapters from Maggie and Daniel’s perspectives. I get that they’re both crucial characters in the overall story, but in a book which already has multiple narrators I wanted to see more from the siblings and less from everyone else. I especially disliked Daniel’s chapter as the whole book progressed without much focus on his feelings and then all of a sudden we were given his thoughts. I feel like the sudden chapter describing Daniel’s thoughts was very unnecessary and could have easily been excluded. I get that Daniel is important as the sperm donor father, but much like the siblings themselves I found myself feeling indifferent towards him.
Something I found interesting was that all of the siblings somehow looked alike: I loved the scene in which Dean and Lydia compared their noses! But at the same time I felt like it was a bit unrealistic for them all to somehow look alike. Similarly, it seemed like a lot of the problems within the book were resolved very easily. Although, most of this happened in the last few chapters by which time the momentum had already built up so it was pretty easy to just go with the flow.
In conclusion, despite my complaints I’d still happily recommend this book to any of my friends! If you enjoy romance and family stories this is the book for you!
How much I enjoyed the book: 9/10 How well I think it was written: 6/10...more