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3.74  ·  Rating details ·  5,710 Ratings  ·  988 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
Hardcover, 326 pages
Published March 15th 2016 by Picador (first published March 1st 2016)
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Feb 13, 2017 rated it liked it
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
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Diane S ☔
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
May 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
j e w e l s [Books Bejeweled]

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
Jul 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Jan 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-audible
****4.5 Stars **** Great story! Review to follow (I hope)
May 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Joce (squibblesreads)
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.
Jan 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, giveaways, korea, 2016
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.
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Richard Derus
Oct 31, 2016 rated it liked it
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  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 16, 2016 rated it liked it
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
Apr 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Geez this was a sad book. I kept waiting for something good to happen but no. I would recommend it though.
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars - It was really good.

A dreary, despondent read, but very well written and a fantastic debut novel with a plot that will be memorable. Easily recommended if you enjoy dark family dramas with lots of dysfunction.
Favorite Quote: He’s not a good son; he knows this already. But he’s the best possible version of the son they raised him to be. Present, but not adoring. Helpful, but not generous. Obligated and nothing more.

First Sentences: The boy is
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
Nov 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nearly five years ago, I read a Please Look After Mom – a remarkable novel by the best-selling Korean author Kyung-sook Shin. That book focused on the unfathomable sacrifices a parent makes for her children and how – at the end of the day – we are unknowable to those whom we believe know us the most.

Shelter, the debut novel by Jung Yun, similarly focuses on family life but in this book, the premise is turned on its ear. The question is not “what sacrifices are made by the parent” as much as “wha
Apr 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a book. you cannot stop reading practically, you want to see what happens next. this is a psychological thriller at its best. the characters are well constructed, the relationships as well. Family - parents, partners in a marriage - it is all about family, secrets, past stories who haunt ones head. there are moments when I could identify with the main character in his relationship with his parents. it was then the moment when I wanted to call my parents and talk to them. Ms Yun didnt write ...more
Rebecca Foster
Aug 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kyung is estranged from his parents, in serious debt, and worried about providing for his wife and son. Then, a terrible act of violence brings Kyung's parents back into his life. Kyung is uncomfortable with his past and his present, and he struggles with decisions for the future.

A very contemporary feel, dealing with topics such as discrimination, abuse, religion, and family. The writing of this novel is beautiful. My only complaint is the main character. Kyung is a whiny, self-absorbed, privi
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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, and The Massachusetts Review.

Her first novel, Shelter (Picador), was an Amazon Best Book of the Month selection in two categories (Literatu
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“At twenty two, he didn't have the foresight to understand how one decision could affect so many others. Now that he's older and everything has settled into a just-tolerable state of atrophy, the options he once had-options that his young students still have- feel like they've passed him by.” 2 likes
“If you think too much, you won’t ever accomplish anything.” Had” 2 likes
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