Karen's Reviews > The Island of Sea Women

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See
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really liked it

I've read many Lisa See books over the years and she never disappoints. This wonderful novel is no exception.

At its core many of See's novels have the same theme: female friendship. They are often overlaid against a historical background and the history is of course inextricably linked to the experiences the women are having and how their friendship evolves (gets impacted) by everything in their lives.

This book in its most basic has the same premise. It's about two women who meet as girls and are as close as siblings from a young age. They are on the Korean island of Jeju and they are part of an all-female diving collective. This culture is characterized as matrifocal, which is, focused on females. The women do all the hard, dangerous work, earn the keep and the men cook and take care of the babies, etc.

The story takes place over a long tumultuous period, including Japanese colonialism in the 1930s and 1940s, World War II, the Korean War and what follows, and then ends up in current day era, a few generations later. There are some horrible horrible things that happen in the book. I am sure much of it is historically accurate and it was tough to read.

The overarching story, as always, is the friendship between the two women. What we keep from each other, even in our most trusted friendships. How we can destroy each other even as we're trying to protect each other. How we can hold on to hatred and resentment for much longer than it serves us. And, of course, regret.

I am grateful for the time I spent with this book, to Lisa See for both teaching me about a time and place in history I knew little about and weaving a deep, touching and thought-provoking story into this time period to make it come even more alive for her readers.

thanks to netgalley and the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Reading Progress

January 13, 2019 – Shelved
January 13, 2019 – Shelved as: to-read
February 23, 2019 – Started Reading
March 1, 2019 – Finished Reading

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