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Brother's Keeper

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  542 ratings  ·  111 reviews
Can two children escape North Korea on their own?

North Korea. December, 1950.

Twelve-year-old Sora and her family live under an iron set of rules: No travel without a permit. No criticism of the government. No absences from Communist meetings. Wear red. Hang pictures of the Great Leader. Don't trust your neighbors. Don't speak your mind. You are being watched.

But war is com
Hardcover, 314 pages
Published July 21st 2020 by Holiday House
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Average rating 4.33  · 
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Pak Sora you are braver than you think and very much deserve to fulfill your dreams.❤️
Paula M
“I know your type,” she continued. “You’re a good girl. You always do as you’re told. There’s nothing wrong with that…just know your worth, too.” No one had ever said that to me before."

Reading Brother's Keeper was such a heart breaking and yet beautiful journey. After the last chapter of the book, I also teared up by reading the authors note and looking at the photos she added with it. I really know that this book is, in some way, personal. I feel honored, privileged and lucky that
Ris Sasaki
Sep 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: asian-books
#WhimsyReadathon Adventures Through Wonderland book 5 ✨

Wow. Just wow.
I really don't know and understand how people are not talking and raving about such an important and emotional book as this one.
Their loss because this was simply phenomenal.
Feb 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lib2021, 2021
vivid and gripping.
Ms. Yingling
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
ARC provided by Follett First Look

In 1950, Sora Pak lives in North Korea with her mother (Omahni), father (Abahji), and younger brothers Youngsoo and Jisoo. She has been pulled out of school to help with her brothers as her parents work on the farm, and things have become increasingly dire in her community. Her mother is never happy with Sora's work, claiming that she can't cook and will never find a husband. Sora would rather go to college, but this does not seem to be an option. She has alread
Emma Kershaw
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book takes you on such an emotional ride. It makes you feel for the main character and everything that she has to go through!! I couldn't stop reading it :) ...more
Anna :)
Jan 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
History. Sad. Escaping North Korea. Family problems. Vivid. Humanity. Heart wrenching.
There are simply not enough books about Korea or the Korean War in print today, and given the importance of that country and that part of the world, it seems important that this dearth of fiction and nonfiction be remedied. In this story, based somewhat on experiences of the author's own mother, readers gain insight into what life was like in North Korea in 1950. Twelve-year-old Pak Sora and her family have endured under the repressive regime that has pitted neighbor against neighbor, barely eki ...more
Becky B
Sora and her family are tired of the restrictions of the Communists in their North Korean village. As the beginnings of the Korean War rumble, her father decides it is time to escape the religious and ideological persecution and get to South Korea. Her mother has a brother in Busan, and the family decides to head there. But as the sneak out at night with what they can carry, Sora and her 8 year old brother are separated from their parents and baby brother. Can Sora get the two of them to Busan i ...more
Nov 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I've never read a novel set during the Korean War, so I was excited to read BROTHER'S KEEPER. Like most war books, it tells a heart-breaking, harrowing tale. The storytelling gives the novel a very personal feel, probably because it was inspired by the author's mother's real-life experience escaping North Korea during the war. Lee creates an atmospheric setting that feels bleak and desperate, helping the reader really FEEL what the characters are going through. Sora is a sympathetic character, o ...more
*I received a eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Holiday House*

Sora lives in North Korea with her parents and her two younger brothers. Their lives are tightly regimented by the communist government, and doing anything forbidden or speaking out of turn can result in people being taken away and never being heard from again.
When war breaks out between North and South Korea, Sora and her family leave their home behind and head for the safety of Busan in South Korea. But w
Joanna Bennett
Jul 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to the publisher for the arc in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

I don’t even know where to begin with this one. I knew that it would emotionally be a hard read because earlier this year I read In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park and it reminded me of events from that book.

Brother’s Keeper is written in the time period of the early 1950’s and correlates with The Korean War. I haven’t read any books about it (non-fiction or fiction) an
Paige Green
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Disclaimer: I received this arc from the publisher for a tour that is no longer happening. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: Brother’s Keeper

Author: Julie Lee

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Korean characters!

Recommended For...: Korean characters, historical fiction, middle grade

Publication Date: July 21, 2020

Genre: MG Historical Fiction

Recommended Age: 13+ (war, scary scenes, starvation, death, violence, slight gore, sexism)

Publisher: Holiday House

Pages: 304

Synopsis: North Korea
Cherlynn (cherreading)
May 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars 😭😭😭

✨ "We weren't just running. We were being chased."

A harrowing and gripping read about a family fleeing North Korea during the Korean War. Or rather, it's mainly about two young children because they get separated from their parents and baby brother halfway through the journey.

The author paints such a vivid picture of the children's journey to Busan: (view spoiler)
Debjani Ghosh
Sep 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
My Blog

Brother’s Keeper by Julie Lee charts a North Korean family’s harrowing escape from its country’s oppressive regime to the democracy of South Korea. Braving border guards, napalm, frostbite, air raids, bombings, and the bitterly cold Korean winter, can this family arrive unscathed at their destination? You will have to read the book to find out.

Brother’s Keeper is a tale of so many things. It is a tale of a family struggling to survive in bleak conditions yet so full of love for each other
Katie Adams
Sep 30, 2020 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this yarn, but I have two bones to pick with the audiobook version: 1) There are flashbacks that are almost indistinguishable from the main story in the audio version, and 2) the narrator mispronounced some of the Korean words (granted, I am not Korean, but I lived there and heard my Korean friends use these words, so it irritated me).
Sep 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio-books
Another nicely considered book. Some good mother-daughter conflict/expectation stuff in the midst of two children escaping North Korea in 1950... good for historical context and cultural expectations also
Nik von Schulmann
Jan 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
A harrowing tale about the 'forgotten' war. It is classified as YA and as such it is very readable. It makes me want to search out other stories from this conflict as I feel I have read so many about WWII stories and want to know more about the Korean War. ...more
Feb 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Sora and her younger brother get separated from their parents while trying to escape to South Korea at the start of the Korean War. The relationship between mother and daughter was difficult and thought provoking. Enjoyed this one!
Sandy Brehl
The various accolades already earned provide plenty of motivation for reading BROTHER’S KEEPER by Julie Lee. Even so, I’ll add my voice to their praise, in hopes that many more will read this remarkable story. The subject of the Korean War has had far too many untold stories, but that is especially true from the perspective of Korean families from the North who made their way, against enormous odds, to the southern peninsula in order to reach freedom and basic survival.

I was an avid fan of M*A*S
Hoover Public Library Kids and Teens
Can two kids escape North Korea on their own in the midst of war? A harrowing, heartbreaking tale of hope, love, and survival against insurmountable odds.
Aug 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was, profound.
It was gripping from the start. The first fourth of the book walks us through a day in the life of North Korean culture in that time, it was captivating. It brings to light the traditional expectations they had of their youths. Especially of Sora as a female. Sora’s character (her entire family!) goes through so much. Long before the war begins. Her and her family struggle with the efforts of making a living, supporting each other, and trusting or not tr
Caylie Ratzlaff
Jan 20, 2021 rated it liked it
Powerful Middle Grade novel set during the Korean War. Deals with Gender customs and refugees from North to South Korea. While powerful in its message, I struggled to get into a flow with reading this.
Rose (Adventurous Bookworm)
You know the times in history that no one speaks about? Well, this book was not afraid to talk about the Korean War and how it affected the citizens living in the North and South. I was shocked to learn that this was based upon the story of the author's mother when she escaped from North Korea as a young girl.

Did you see the cover??? It is so accurate to the story and also engrossing. (ok, fine, I first picked this up because of it.)

This book featured both history and culture which I'd love to s
Oct 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is very well done and shines a light on the Korean War which I fear most tweens know very little about. The action in the book (and there is quite a lot of it in the first 2/3 of the novel) is enough to capture most readers and is a harrowing account of one young girl and her brother's escape from the North to the South.
The last 1/3 of the book slows way down (once they reach relative safety) and I felt dragged on and could've used some editing.

All in all, a great read and one that should e
Excellent, excellent book about a war that, as the author points out in her postscript, doesn't get a lot of attention from the media or history classes. ...more
Jul 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: other-reviews
BROTHER'S KEEPER is a highly engrossing and heartfelt read about a 12-year-old girl and her dangerous journey from North to South Korea in 1950. At the beginning of the book, Sora lives with her parents and two younger brothers in North Korea. Sora stays at home to watch her brothers instead of going to school, where she was an excellent student and had dreamed of going to university. As a girl, her life is to revolve around childcare and domestic chores, starting now while she is 12.

Sora hates
Jun 06, 2021 added it
I snatched up this book because I've never seen a fictional book written for children about modern Korea. Before handing it to my children, I decided to take it for a test run. I'm going to take the time to write out some notes on things I want to remember if/when my children read this.
- While setting is important, this book is much more focused on family dynamics and cultural expectations than it is on explaining the history. There is no information on why the communists are bad, why Sora's da
Shaye Miller
Oct 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
My thanks to for providing me with a complimentary audiobook of Brother's Keeper. This historical fiction novel explored the realities of families living in Korea during the Korean war. There's a great deal of fear in this Communist community. Citizens are not allowed to speak their mind. And if anyone suspects you do not agree with your leaders, you'll be executed. Sora Pak is a big sister who must give up school to help take care of the family while her parents tend a farm. Young boys ...more
Mar 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was an engrossing, brutal read. So many people died horribly throughout, including children. It's not gratuitous - it's historically accurate and well-written - but it did make the book simultaneously hard to read and harder to put down. The writing style itself was clear and accessible: it was very easy to get into Sora's head and to feel what she was feeling, physically and emotionally. Flashbacks to previous periods in Sora's life and Korean words were both smoothly worked into the text, ...more
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