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3.73  ·  Rating details ·  7,480 ratings  ·  1,252 reviews
Why should a man care for his parents when they failed to take care of him as a child?

Kyung Cho is a young father burdened by a house he can’t afford. For years, he and his wife, Gillian, have lived beyond their means. Now their debts and bad decisions are catching up with them, and Kyung is anxious for his family’s future.

A few miles away, his parents, Jin and Mae, live i
ebook, 336 pages
Published March 15th 2016 by Picador (first published March 1st 2016)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,480 ratings  ·  1,252 reviews

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I enjoyed the writing a lot. I thought it was well done, easy to read, and kept my interest.

However . . .

The main character was the most pitiful excuse for a main character I have ever seen. He is a stupid, whiny, inconsiderate, good-for-nothing loser. Even when I thought the author was trying to make me "understand his pain" or "realize he couldn't help it", I just wanted him to sack up, grow a pair, take some responsibility, treat those around him with respect, and stop being a big, whiny bab
Elyse  Walters
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite
Wow.... Now I understand why "Shelter" was a contender for best fiction of 2016.
Where does one begin to write a review?

Immediately I was pulled in. Within pages we are involved with the struggles a couple is facing.

Kyung Cho is Korean born.... Gillian is Irish, but born in America. They are living in the states with their 4 year old son, Ethan. The couple has financial problems and has invited a realtor over to discuss plans to either sell or rent their house.
Their final plan is to rent their
Andrew Smith
Jan 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Kyung Cho is Korean born but is now living in America with his wife Gillian and their four-year-old son. He’s well educated and works as a tenure-track professor at the local university. But he and his wife have over-stretched themselves and their financial situation is perilous. They have next to no savings, a sizable mortgage on their neglected house and a collection of credit cards, all of which are maxed out. On top of this, Kyung is not a happy man. Nothing about his life seems a good fit: ...more
May 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This emotionally draining story deserves the reader's full attention, even though it may cause something to shift inside of you. It is beautifully written, devoid of author manipulation, and it somehow manages to gently deliver a tale that is steeped in pain and suffering. In fact, the suffering itself is so ever present that it could easily be identified as the main character...a living thing that takes on many forms, that grows and spreads, and affects every person in this story. The pain with ...more
Diane S ☔
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Shelter is one of those words that can hold a different meaning for different people. For me, my shelter is my home, a place of safety, comfort, and even peace now that my children are grown and no, longer living here. But what if your home was not a place of safety? How do you move on? Shelter can even represent a place in your mind, a place where you put those memories, the things that happened so that you can put on a pretend face in public, allowing you to act somewhat normally. Houses a ...more
j e w e l s
Dec 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

SHELTER is an engrossing book from the very first page to the last. It starts with a horrific crime and continues with the secrets unleashed in it's aftermath. I can't say I actually enjoyed the book, there is a terrifying realism to the story and that story is such a sad and ugly one. SHELTER explores many different themes regarding culture, family duty, domestic violence and immigrant discrimination.

SHELTER is an ambitious combination of books like House of Sand and Fog, The Book of Un
Julie Ehlers
I think we've all had experiences of finding it easier to review a book we didn't like than a book we really liked. When a novel doesn't work for us, it's usually fairly obvious which parts are malfunctioning. But when a novel is working, there's something almost alchemical about it: All of the parts lock together seamlessly, and it's next to impossible to single out elements particularly worthy of praise.

Shelter drew me in immediately, but why? I could say it's the characters, none of whom were
Jul 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
I picked up Shelter after reading a few of the reviews here, and I’m so glad I listened to my GR’s friends! What a rare book!

On the surface, Kyung Cho has a pretty good life. Sure he’s deeply in debt and his marriage isn’t perfect, but he has a decent job at a liberal arts college, a nice son, and two parents who clearly want to be closer to him. Yet Kyung is distant from everyone around him. He lives in a constant state of watchfulness and low-level anxiety, never sharing his feelings or exper
May 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I know I'm like 4 years behind the trend on this one, but holy cow, this book is so good. Watch my full review: ...more
Kyung Cho, a Korean born American is married to an Gillian an Irish-American. He has a doctorate in biology and teaches at a university. But they struggle to make ends meet, with enough debts to have him declared bankrupt.

Gillian's father, Connie, is a cop, and Kyung's parents are affluent first generation immigrants to America. Gillian grew up with limited resources to succeed, while Kyung was priviliged.

When a tragedy strikes, Kyung's parents is forced to move in with them and soon a drama en
A startling and visceral debut, Shelter will resonate with anyone who has felt the pain of family trauma. The story focuses on Kyung Cho, a young father who finds himself deep in debt. Though he has a good job at the local university, he and his wife have spent way above their means, placing them and their young son in a precarious position. Kyung refuses to ask for help from his parents, Mae and Jin, who live just a few miles away in a wealthy neighborhood. In his childhood, they treated Kyung ...more
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-audible
****4.5 Stars **** Great story! Review to follow (I hope)
Kristy K
I bought this book when it first came out and forgot to re-read the synopsis before diving in just now so I wasn't wholly prepared for the darkness that laid within the pages. This is a family drama that deals with the ugly side of family and society.

While I felt for Kyung and the things he went through as a child, I despised him as an adult. I know our childhood shapes us (we all have a trait that grew from a childhood event that we wish we could change), but he used this as an excuse to not t

"Shelter" is one hell of a debut by Jun Yun. I was hooked by the end of the first chapter. Yun's writing is so vivid. You can see and feel everything that is happening within the story/plot. Never a dull or awkward moment. I don't think I got distracted once while reading this book, which is rare for me because I get distracted very easily (I can't help it, I'm a Gemini). Her characters are intriguing, complex, and deeply-flawed. The Cho family is the most toxic family I've read in a lon
Joce (squibblesreads)
Jan 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Upgrading this book to 4.5-5 stars. I think about this every day and it has changed the way I reflect about my choices as an Asian-American. Jung Yun is brilliant.
Jul 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Terrific read! I've been thinking about this one for a week and still struggle with articulation ... my notebook is full of fitful starts only to be scrapped and re-written ... over and over and over... sure sign for me of a wonderfully deep, thought provoking story.

This weekend perhaps ....

July 31, 2016 ... I struggled mightily to find the words for this one. Here it is:


Wow what a fabulous read! Poignant but smooth, textured with jagged edges, all at the same time. Nearly a full two w
Apr 13, 2016 added it
Shelves: fiction, debut
Exceptional Debut – A 2016 Favorite

An expression of thanks is extended to Edelweiss and Picador Publishing and the Author, Jung Yun for providing Shelter in e-galley format for my review.

For a little over two days I was wrapped up in the world of Kyung and his family. Rather than reading quickly and turning the pages rapidly Shelter is the kind of book I like to slow it down and contemplate the story. Just what is happening here? Who are these people and what baggage have they brought to this
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book. I can't even really explain why I liked it so much. Yes it's about a dysfunctional family who are dealing with the ramifications of a crime, a crime that shakes the foundation of the Cho family to the core. Besides that Kyung is dealing with financial woes, I think anyone dealing with family pressures or have found themselves facing financial difficulties could really feel the pain this family is going through. It's all the little things that crop up that I could really ...more
Jan 19, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways, 2016, fiction, korea
This was entertaining, suspenseful and in parts relatable to my own situation, but as a whole it was just ok. The writing was too simple for my taste and the cheesy dialogue at times felt like a soap opera. But the real problem was the ending: It was implausible, cringe-worthy and even somewhat insulting.

2.5 rounded up.

**I received this book from the publisher through the Goodreads Giveaways program.
Richard Derus
Rating: 3.25* of five, rounded down

I voted for this in the 2016 Goodreads choice awards because it was the most interesting novel I'd read among the choices. It wasn't an easy read. I disliked everyone except Ethan Cho, the four-year-old, and given time I'm sure I'd've disliked him too.

What price family? I didn't have a close or happy family. My own parents weren't like the Chos, they were chaotic rather than cruel and cold. But what made the book interesting for me is the way Kyung tries to sto
Damn! That book hit so close to home. It will stay with me for a long time.
May 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was so totally immersed in this novel, the characters and the setting and even the story felt so real. This is a debut by this author so I can't wait to read her next book. ...more
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wow. The cover of this book quotes a review that mentions Shelter as "domestic drama at its best" & I couldn't agree more. While I knew the premise of the book before starting it, the story was still a bit darker than I was expecting. It also had a plot twist I was not expecting.

Kyung, the main character, is a father drowning in debt, trying to keep his family afloat and together, and deal with unresolved feelings toward his parents, which come to light in the aftermath of an incident that take
Aug 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Korean-American family faces up to violence past and present in this strong debut. There is a sense here of a familial curse, of being doomed to repeat one’s parents’ mistakes. “I never really had a chance, did I?” Kyung asks rhetorically at one point. Finances and relationships just keep going from bad to worse, as the novel’s tripartite structure suggests: “Dawn” cedes to “Dusk,” which descends into “Night.” You wonder just how terrible things can get – will this really reach the Thomas Hard ...more
Book Riot Community
The Vegetarian left me craving for another dark read and I could not have selected better. Shelter repeatedly surprised me as Kyung, unfulfilled and struggling to make ends meet, suddenly finds himself having to take in his parents. Parents who he’s never forgiven for his childhood. And while he was fine with ignoring things before, having never even told his wife, he can no longer pretend that the family facade is real. Profound and dark this story stayed with me as it confronted multigeneratio ...more
Mar 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2016
Wow, this really has the potential to be my book of the year. This is a brutal portrait of middle America, and the devastating and wide reaching impacts of the economic downturn. But it is also a novel about family, about the tensions in our relationships with our parents and how we hurt each other. It was immensely and compulsively readable
Jun 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A dark, gripping, shocking and twisting domestic thriller and a clever piece of suburban noir. With the Cho family Yun creates a tale of cultural clashes, family secrets and smashes the American Dream.
Apr 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Geez this was a sad book. I kept waiting for something good to happen but no. I would recommend it though.
Jung Yun knows one version of Tolstoy's "unhappy" families. This one is definitely "unhappy in its own way". And her writing is clear, and basically quite simple. This book churns emotions. Continually and deeply of those which in particular surround anguish, grief, and regret.

For me, it would have been a 4 star absolutely and this would be a much longer reaction, if the Part 3 NIGHT was omitted. The first parts were a vivid and dark scenario well served from 7 or 8 different perspectives, desp
Mar 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Kyung Cho is a young biology academic, with a wife and young son. He is not a happy man. His childhood as a new immigrant from Korea in a white middle class town was not happy and his parents were severe and often cruel. To date his career has been undistinguished and he is over his head in debt with a mortgage he can't afford and is facing selling his home. His father Jin is a wealthy inventor and lives close by in a huge showcase house, immaculately decorated by his wife, Kyung's mother Mae, b ...more
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Jung Yun was born in South Korea, raised in North Dakota, and has lived in New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and most recently, Baltimore, Maryland, where she currently resides. Her short fiction has appeared in Tin House, The Best of Tin House: Stories, The Indiana Review, and The Massachusetts Review.

Her second novel, O Beautiful, will be published by St. Martin's on November 9, 2021. Her

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