Fiona Mitchell's Reviews > How We Disappeared

How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
19317957
's review

it was amazing
Read 2 times. Last read September 7, 2018.

A shattering, tender and absorbing novel that centres around the unfathomable cruelty that women in Singapore endured when they were snatched by the Japanese Army and forced into sexual slavery during World War Two. It was harrowing to read of Wang Di’s incarceration as a ‘comfort woman’ - far too benign a description for the barbarism that she and thousands of women endured across the occupied territories - yet what rings out from the book is human resilience and our capacity to love no matter how damaged we might be.

Not only do we hear from young Wang Di, age just 16 when she is ripped away from her family and locked into the tiny room of her prison, but elderly Wang Di has her own chapters too. Grieving her husband, affectionately known as the 'Old One', it transpires that neither of them, though traumatised by their experiences during the occupation, have ever shared with one another what really happened to them both. For Wang Di, this is because of the shame that attached to women who had been forced into sexual slavery; their treatment included being shunned and called traitors. Wang Di sets out to discover what the Old One experienced during the war. The third voice in the book belongs to the enchanting teenager Kevin. With his bottle-top glasses and his tape recorder, he starts to unearth a secret that his late grandmother had been keeping for decades. As Wang Di and Kevin set out on their individual quests to uncover the truth, the tension builds while we wait to find out whether their worlds will collide.

The final chapters are suffused with kindness, the power of talking, love. Indeed they are so moving that I read them through a blur of tears.

Meticulously researched, exquisitely written, with characters that will live and breathe in your hearts long after you finish the last page, How We Disappeared is a worthy testament to the women who were forced to become ‘comfort women.’ Not only does Jing-Jing Lee capture the horror of it all, but also the hope. I’m reeling from its power - what an absolute triumph.
5 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read How We Disappeared.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

September 1, 2018 – Started Reading
September 1, 2018 – Shelved
September 7, 2018 – Started Reading
September 7, 2018 – Finished Reading
September 7, 2018 – Finished Reading

No comments have been added yet.