Lena's Reviews > All Woman and Springtime

All Woman and Springtime by Brandon W. Jones
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May 26, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction

All woman and springtime is how North Korean orphan Gi sees her friend, the beautiful Il-Sun. They are seventeen and about to leave the orphanage to embark on the closest thing they can expect to have to an independent life under their repressive regime. Without ranking parentage, they cannot expect too much from their impending future, but even these faint hopes are dashed when they find themselves abruptly sold into the sex trade.

I was drawn into their story from the first pages. Jones skillfully sets up the North Korean state as the truly evil antagonist that it is, putting me firmly on the side of the girls before I knew much about them. The insight he provides into daily life inside the bizarre personality cult of that country was the most fascinating part of the book for me. Through Gi in particular, he paints a harrowing portrait of how the mind adapts to a world in which starvation, disappearance and torture are everyday occurrences.

Some have described the prose in this book as being simple, at more of a young adult level. While the writing is simple, it appropriately so - an accurate reflection of the mental state one could expect from people raised within an authoritarian cult, which strives by nature to infantilize its members.

There is nothing young adult about this topic, however. Jones does not hold back as he describes the trials the girls go through as they escape the frying pan of North Korea to the fire of the sex trade, and I found parts of this book very difficult to read.

Despite that, I was never tempted to put the book down because the author provides such fascinating insight into the ways in which our own minds can both free us and enslave us as we face the most dire of circumstances. This is an important and valuable book for anyone looking to understand more about North Korea or sex trafficking, as well as a gripping and ultimately inspiring story.
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