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All Woman and Springtime

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  1,288 Ratings  ·  217 Reviews
Before she met Il-sun in an orphanage, Gi was a hollow husk of a girl, broken from growing up in one of North Korea’s forced-labor camps. A mathematical genius, she has learned to cope with pain by retreating into a realm of numbers and calculations, an escape from both the past and present. Gi becomes enamored of the brash and radiant Il-sun, a friend she describes as “al ...more
Hardcover, 434 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Algonquin (first published 2012)
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Rating details
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May 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
The ways in which this book is not good are many. The prose is really overblown. There are some descriptions that truly baffled me with their excessive ornament. Rarely does the story seem authentic. The violence doesn't so much shock as seem... rote. The novel feels more like a book designed to bring an awareness to sexual slavery rather than a story about the women involved. The message of the book is earnest but the message also dominates the story like an after school special. There's no sen ...more
Jan 23, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: work
One of the worst kind of books, in my opinion--a bad example of what can happen when women are written by white men who think they "get" women and the minority experience. It is the colonialism of 2012, when being overly-PC can exonerate a conscience and mask condescension.
The book is over-thought in every way, starting from the over-explication of the characters' "depth" to the way he shows the positive sides of each situation, including living in North Korea and working as a sex slave in Sout
Apr 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
A mesmerizing book that many will find hard to read. Gi, the main character, changes from a brutalized, terrified 10 year old to a near catatonic teen to a woman of untapped strength in this tale of a North Korean girl condemned and then rescued from a concentration camp. She finds a friend in the orphanage but when it is their time to leave the orphanage and strike out on their own, they are betrayed by Il-Sun’s lover and sold into trafficking in South Korea. When they try to escape they are tr ...more
Jun 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Sex trafficking is a horrific and serious global human rights issue, and reading about it is not- all woman and springtime. However, this book was foremost interesting for its depiction of women in North Korea. While I cannot speak to its veracity, it was genuinely shocking and fascinating to learn about the dramatic repression and lies believed by the North Koreans, it is an island onto itself.
The story of these four Korean women and the awful exploitation they experience after being sold int
Esther Bradley-detally
May 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
i think this is Brandon W. Jones' first novel - and it is an excellent one. I have been laying low and just put myself on vakashun, which translates to "inhale books." Key themes/subjects are North Korea, young girls, human trafficking and sexual slavery - and as such, there's a warning in the novel, "may not be suitable for young readers."

It is painful, heartrending, courageous, truthful, and triumphant on some levels. I write this review from Pasadena, California, where a year or so ago, I hea
Feb 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 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 skillfu
Andrea Mullarkey
Jul 23, 2012 rated it liked it
I do love a bleak story and when I read a review of this book about human trafficking in North Korea I thought for sure this book would be for me. And sure enough it opens on a pair of young women living in an orphanage in North Korea and working under an exacting boss at a factory sewing pants. Their lives are meager, their histories disappointing and their futures hold little promise in spite of their personal efforts and charms. In the second part of the book, things go from bad to worse. The ...more
Aug 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
All Woman and Springtime is the first novel by Brandon W. Jones who has taken on the topics of North Korea and human trafficking in one big gulp of a story. The story centers on two young women who are about to age out of a women's orphanage in North Korea.

Gi (Gyong-ho) was orphaned in a concentration camp after inadvertently revealing a trivial infraction by her family's care of "the Dear Leader's" portrait hanging in their had dust on it. Her torture in the camp is graphically descri
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Mar 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Betrayal, brainwashing, corruption, hardships, fear, innocence, and poverty.

These words make up the life of Il-sun and Gi. Il-sun was wealthy at one time, but the death of her parents left her with no songbun and no status. Gi was poor from birth and her family was accused by the government of not being loyal to the Great Leader and put into prison. Both girls ended up in an orphanage and worked in a sewing factory. When a slick trafficker deceives Il-sun, she and Gi end up in South Korea and a
Jan 26, 2012 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Viden er magt

Konstant hjernevask er et glimrende middel til at opnå kontrol med et helt land. Med avancerede sociale kontrolinstitutioner, sørgede den nordkoreanske stat for at holde landets borgere under konstant overvågning – og traf alle væsentlige beslutninger i hver enkelt borgers liv. Staten bestemte,  hvem der måtte arbejde med hvad, hvor man måtte bo og sikrede (mere eller mindre) mad på bordet. Og var en borger den helt rigtige parti-type, kunne der tildeles et par gulerødder. Pigerne f
Cindy Powell
Aug 12, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: finished
I have mixed feelings about this book. It is the author's first novel, so I should indulge some mistakes here and there. I'm bothered by too many perspectives. I would have liked to have had more focus on the two main characters. Sometimes I feel they got lost in the story, and what I mean by that, is my emotional connection to them got lost. Jones hits the mark by exposing the sexual trafficking of young girls, and especially unflinchingly ties prostitution directly to Internet pornography. Goo ...more
Jul 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I am not a huge fan of contemporary stories - I prefer historical fiction. This wonderful story was lyrical, insightful and full of troubled characters. Mind control, political expediency, war and poverty all play a role in the victimized-victims and the victimizing-victims. The pain inflicted on others when self-preservation is the largest goal - is a double edged sword - cutting and clearing a path of human emotions and compassion leaving behind, dangling, bruised and hardened hearted people - ...more
Jul 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Lately, I've been fascinated by Korean culture. All of this stemmed from reading a book set in Korea. I chose this book as a result of my recent interest. Also, this book was partially set in North Korea and this appealed to me even more.

I was a bit worried when I read the cover and realized the main characters were eventually sold into sex slavery. It was a subject I didnt particularly want to read about. Mainly, because I know it is real and happens under our noses.

I am happy that I chose to
Jun 13, 2012 rated it did not like it
DNF. the horror of human trafficking and sexual enslavement of young women in North Korea to South Korea and beyond could not overcome the stilted writing. this book is a prime example of how the "show, not tell" rule was violated many a time. actions by characters, esp. the villains, were over explained.

"The foreman stood in front of the busy seamstresses, scowling. The joints of his damaged leg were aching with particular vengeance. There must be a storm coming, he thought. He was a man who m
Sara Smith
Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to give this 4.5 stars and then I realized I have this bad habit of wanting to mark down books because I don't like the subject material versus it just not being a good book. This book is haunting, horrifying, and next-to-impossible to put down. I started reading it when my kids went down for nap and only planned to read a chapter which turned into 2.5 hours later when my kids want a snack and I'm still tired, but outraged of human trafficking across the world even in the United ...more
What to do with this book? When I first finished the book, I simply thought it wasn’t a great read for me, but as time as has gone on – I am realizing I actively dislike this book for a number of reasons. The book begins as the story of two orphans working in a factory in North Korea. The backstory of how these two girls became orphans and came to the point where we meet them is somewhat lightly sketched, as is some background about the woman running the orphanage, the man overseeing the factory ...more
Jun 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Story Description:

Algonquin Books|April 25, 2012|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-1-61620-077-0

Before she met Il-sun in an orphanage, Gi was a hollow husk of a girl, broken from growing up in one of North Korea’s forced labour camps. A mathematical genius, she has learned to cope with pain by retreating into a realm of numbers and calculations, an escape from both the past and present. Gi becomes enamored of the brash and radiant II-sun, a friend she describes as all woman and springtime. But II-sun’s pursui
Bonnie Brody
Apr 28, 2012 rated it liked it
North Korea is a place of severe hardship, where food is in very short supply and the hierarchy of life is a given. The life of the people in North Korea is known as Chosun and Songbun is their status. "Juche was the cornerstone on which the great Chosun nation was founded. It was a philosophy of self-sufficiency and cultural superiority - the ideal socialism". All the citizens are expected to worship the Great Leader and not prostrating oneself in front of a photograph of him is enough to be se ...more
Kim Overstreet
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I have been staring at my computer for about half an hour, just trying to find words that adequately convey how profoundly this story moved me. Beautifully written, Jones' debut novel is a coming of age story about Gi, a North Korean girl with a propensity for mathematics. Gi goes from a labor camp to an orphanage to South Korea and Seattle as a sex slave. The story offers a beautiful study of contrasts, as Gi grows up experiencing the worst humanity has to offer, but also acts of kindness and f ...more
Laura Roush
Jun 26, 2012 rated it liked it
An eye-opening read, All Woman in Springtime tells the story of two North Korean orphans who are tricked and sold into the sex trade in South Korea and eventually, America. Dealing with unfathomable abuses and personal battles of identity, friendship gives the two heroines strength and together, they hold onto hope for a future of freedom, whatever that is.
Excellent character development but a highly improbable ending, All Woman moves at a decent and steady pace after getting off to a slow star
Dec 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The book immediately draws readers with its detailed descriptions about the constant mind control and deceptions of daily life in North Korea. So it's stunning to realize that greater indignities can be suffered in the wealthy and democratic lands of Seoul and Seattle. The lack of education and naivete trap three young North Korean women as much as locked doors and armed guards do. Fear, insecurity, gullibility, youth provide handy targets for those who want to profit from trafficking and prosti ...more
Diane S ☔
Jun 07, 2012 rated it liked it
3.5 Many aspects of this novel were of interest to me, the setting in North and South Korea, the conditions and treatments in the prisoner's camps, the lack of food and freedom, and the story of the two girls in the orphanage. Il-Sun and Gi, meet in an orphanage, having traveled very different paths in their youth, and this is very much their story. Some of the parts were very difficult to read, the sexual slavery they became entrapped in but Gi manages to stay sane because she is a mathematical ...more
May 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-fiction
Incredible. Each character's story was so nuanced and authentic- deeply felt and painful lives without needless sentimentality. How a man who has never been to North Korea could write a story so poignant about women is... unbelievable.

If you have the least interest in North Korea, I HIGHLY recommend this book. You can get a feeling for the lives of those who live in and are the real North Korea, without all the tainted opinions of diplomats and politicians. After all- isn't it so that the ordina
Jun 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This novel is one of the most compelling I have ever read, not only because of an incredibly moving (and unfortunately authentic) story but also because of the incredible accuracy of details regarding North Korean life. The author managed to portray the widely unknown truths of both North Korea and human trafficking through an emotional plot which will keep you glued to the pages. Jones has created an extremely rare portal into the real lives of millions of suffering North Korean citizens and th ...more
Lucia Sandoval
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a hard book for me to read, considering I have a 10 year daughter. Very heartbreaking when we think about what goes on in our world that we sometimes are so oblivious to.
Sex trafficking is something that happens so frequently, and yet, it's something that you never really think of daily. The young girls in the book will definitely stay with me for awhile.

If you enjoyed this book, I recommend The Blue Notebook. The Blue Notebook is definitely more touching than this one.
Dec 14, 2012 rated it liked it
I am ambivalent about this novel. It talks about North Korea and life there and then switches focus to South Korea and the exploitation of women. The chapters are short so it does not ape pseudo-serious chunky proses so one can read through it pretty quickly but I was looking for more insights into the lives of North Koreans.
Tarrant Figlio
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
Five stars because it is a don't miss read. (If you can get through the fact that it deserves a *trigger* warning for graphic sexual abuse and sex trafficking.)

I waffled a bit on rating though. The end was rushed. The beginning was a bit too flowery prose. I am also not sure Gi's sexual attraction to Il-Sun needed to be included to make us understand Gi and Il-sun's relationship.
Sep 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was very interested in getting to the end of this book to discover the fate of Gi but the end came all too soon for more and was a little bit of a what the ? Moment. Otherwise, this was one of my favorite reads of the summer. I kept forgetting that the story is set in current times and that makes it more interesting but relevant. A story about perseverance and over come odds.
Linda Ethier
Aug 01, 2012 marked it as to-read
Star Tribune review. August 1, 2012. Novel chronicles endurance of two young women who struggle to flee North Korea.
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Brandon Jones grew up in the Wood River Valley, in the small town of Bellevue, Idaho where the highland desert meets the Rocky Mountains. There he developed a love of nature alongside an insatiable creative drive, with much support from his small and tight-knit community. He went on to study art and music, first at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, then at Cornish College of the Arts ...more
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