Goodreads Choice Awards Book Club discussion

The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story
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Archive - Additional Reads > The Girl with Seven Names - August 2016

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message 1: by Savanes, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Savanes | 2051 comments Mod
The group voted on The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story by Hyeonseo Lee for our Memoir and autobiography nominee to read in August.

The Girl with Seven Names A North Korean Defector’s Story by Hyeonseo Lee

book summary
An extraordinary insight into life under one of the world’s most ruthless and secretive dictatorships – and the story of one woman’s terrifying struggle to avoid capture/repatriation and guide her family to freedom.

As a child growing up in North Korea, Hyeonseo Lee was one of millions trapped by a secretive and brutal totalitarian regime. Her home on the border with China gave her some exposure to the world beyond the confines of the Hermit Kingdom and, as the famine of the 1990s struck, she began to wonder, question and to realise that she had been brainwashed her entire life. Given the repression, poverty and starvation she witnessed surely her country could not be, as she had been told “the best on the planet”?

Aged seventeen, she decided to escape North Korea. She could not have imagined that it would be twelve years before she was reunited with her family.

She could not return, since rumours of her escape were spreading, and she and her family could incur the punishments of the government authorities – involving imprisonment, torture, and possible public execution. Hyeonseo instead remained in China and rapidly learned Chinese in an effort to adapt and survive. Twelve years and two lifetimes later, she would return to the North Korean border in a daring mission to spirit her mother and brother to South Korea, on one of the most arduous, costly and dangerous journeys imaginable.

This is the unique story not only of Hyeonseo’s escape from the darkness into the light, but also of her coming of age, education and the resolve she found to rebuild her life – not once, but twice – first in China, then in South Korea. Strong, brave and eloquent, this memoir is a triumph of her remarkable spirit.

We will start discussing this volume on August 1st.

Heather | 103 comments I just finished this book and found it to be an incredible invitation to contemplate what freedom means, what basic human rights are, the attitudes of different countries towards refugees, and what our own obligations are as citizens of the world. While I knew very little about the Koreas before reading this autobiography, I found this work deeply engaging! Highly recommended!

Christine | 15 comments I finished this a few days ago and I feel the same as Heather. I have been talking about it with anyone that will listen. It is easy to lose perspective growing up in a country that has so much freedom. I found myself counting my blessings as I turned the pages.

message 4: by Savanes, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Savanes | 2051 comments Mod
5 stars twice!! Wow, I really need to start reading it.

message 5: by Savanes, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Savanes | 2051 comments Mod
I started this one. I just love it!
Very well written, very interesting and best of all it's not tedious at all. If I didn't know it was true story, I could almost believe that I was reading an historical fiction novel.

I'm still at the beginning so there's no terrible events so far.

message 6: by Lea (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lea (leaspot) | 103 comments I finished this book weeks ago and I loved it. Like Heather, I'm still thinking about what freedom is. Also about the role of education in shaping our beliefs and morals. This is one of my favorite books this year.

message 7: by Heather (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:05PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Heather | 103 comments Here is the link to Hyeonseo Lee's Ted Talk. What an amazingly brave woman.

message 8: by Savanes, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Savanes | 2051 comments Mod
I think this is one of my favorite book this year! What an amazing story.
@Heather: Thanks for sharing the link!

message 9: by Lynn, Moderator (new)

Lynn | 4165 comments Mod
This wasnt even on my radar to read but your enthusiasm is making me reconsider

message 10: by Savanes, Moderator (new) - rated it 5 stars

Savanes | 2051 comments Mod
@Lynn: I'm not into non fiction but it felt like a novel (kind of horrible to say that) except it's all true. The writing style is very good. Every chapter, I wanted to know what was about to happen after. And furthermore, it was very educational.

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