I have so many dreams of my own, and I remember things from my childhood, from when I was a girl and a young woman, and I haven t forgotten a thing So why did we think of Mom as a mom from the very beginning She didn t have the opportunity to pursue her dreams, and all by herself, faced everything the era dealt her, poverty and sadness, and she couldn t do anything about her very bad lot in life other than suffer through it and get beyond it and live her life to the very best of her ability, giving her body and her heart to it completely Why did I never give a thought to Mom s dreams Kyung Sook Shin, Please Look After Mom.
Kyung Sook Shin s Please Look After Mom, winner of The Man Asian Literary Prize was a deeply affecting, tear jerker read I cried so hard reading this book, I do not recommend you read it in public and make sure you have a box of tissue handy Simple in prose, it wasn t necessary that the writing in itself was good, but what the book was about that made the novel good Although set in South Korea, this book will undoubtedly resonate with many people because of its universal theme family, motherhood, love loss, tradition, and familial obligations duties I think that is why the novel did so well worldwideThis novel brought back of some of my fondest childhood memories of growing up in a rural countryside in Korea It s so hard to believe that I used to live exactly like the rural life described in the book I kept thinking of my parents, especially my mom as I read the novel I briefly mentioned about my parents in another review, but both of my parents had rough childhoods Especially my dad who has been on his own since 9, working at various temples to have a place to stay doing all kinds of odd errands jobs Then they got married had twins at a young age and have been just working to have the ends meet, eventually bringing our family to America They never really had the opportunities to pursue their dreams or go to school, they had to work raise a young family I love my parents and forever grateful indebted for their love, sacrifices, and support I could not imagine my life without my parents and hope they live a long, healthy life I hope that I can be a good daughter to them and make up for all the troubles I caused, but that s for another time, lol.
simple in prose bit slow burner, but deeply affecting poignant and well observed family dynamic Korean culture, the novel is told in 2nd person narrative by four voices daughter, son, father, and mother, after Sixty nine year old So nyo mother got separated from her husband among the crowds of the Seoul subway station They were on their way to visit their children from the countryside, and told the kids they ll find their way to the eldest son s house on their own because none of them could meet them at the station What follows is each character s heartbreaking confession, guilt, misinterpretation, miscommunication, and frustration not picking up their parents at the station, reflecting back on the sacrifices the mom wife made for the family, not being a better daughter son husband, not acting on what mom asked or not to do, and ultimately, not knowing who mom really wasWe don t get to find out where mom is at the end, that broke me, and left me bit frustrated But I have a bunch based on mom s confession I think author left that part out on purpose because it s the stories that are the focus of the book Oh my goodness, the dad s section really tore me up And mom s secret, oh my god, heartbreaking Highly recommend this hauntingly beautiful, yet sad, moving novel.
An International Sensation And A Bestseller That Has Sold Over Million Copies Author S Korea, Please Look After Mom Is A Stunning, Deeply Moving Story Of A Family S Search For Their Missing Mother And Their Discovery Of The Desires, Heartaches And Secrets They Never Realized She Harbored WithinWhen Sixty Nine Year Old So Nyo Is Separated From Her Husband Among The Crowds Of The Seoul Subway Station, And Vanishes, Their Children Are Consumed With Loud Recriminations, And Are Awash In Sorrow And Guilt As They Argue Over The Missing Flyers They Are Posting Throughout The City How Large Of A Reward To Offer, The Best Way To Phrase The Text They Realize That None Of Them Have A Recent Photograph Of Mom Soon A Larger Question Emerges Do They Really Know The Woman They Called Mom Told By The Alternating Voices Of Mom S Daughter, Son, Her Husband And, In The Shattering Conclusion, By Mom Herself, The Novel Pieces Together, Rashomon Style, A Life That Appears Ordinary But Is Anything But This Is A Mystery Of One Mother That Reveals Itself To Be The Mystery Of All Our Mothers About Her Triumphs And Disappointments And About Who She Is On Her Own Terms, Separate From Who She Is To Her Family If You Have Ever Been A Daughter, A Son, A Husband Or A Mother, Please Look After Mom Is A Revelation One That Will Bring Tears To Your Eyes Wow, that was bizarre and bad What starts out as an interesting family novel turns into an extended hagiography of Mom , a woman so amazingly selfless and nurturing that puppies, ducklings, fields and orphans spring into worshipful life around her only her callous children and faithless husband don t see the value of this woman, who secretly feeds the poor, delivers the baby of a man who stole from her, sleeps in the cold, and donates her old age mite to orphans She is so selfless that despite being plagued literally by a host of illnesses from mysterious stomach trouble to cancer to apparently Alzheimer s she never even agrees to take medicine or go to the hospital She is Super Mom, the epitome of never mind, I ll just sit in the dark , and so annoyingly perfect and cloyingly abject that if she were your Mom, you d be speaking as sharply to her as her children and husband do But never fear, in Shin s world, these children will rue for eternity those sharp words Even the perfect 2nd daughter is racked by endless guilt and wants to stick her head in a dirt hole b c she failed to plant a persimmon tree in the spot that Mom told her to really Speaking of the 2nd daughter, one of the most gratingly retrograde and black white aspects of this book is that the only person in the family who is kind to Mom so kind she buys her a mink coat with her first paycheck is the 2nd daughter, a stay at home Mom to 3 children, so selfless in her own right that she wears mis matched socks and collapses in motherly exhaustion This book does not deal in nuance By contrast, the careerist, not married, older daughter is you guessed it mean to Mom, and Dad , drinks too much, and therefore is to blame for most things in the world.
A final complaint and in a book so thematically irksome, this is really trivia the family structure and timeline do not hold together There are supposedly 5 children, but the two younger sons are almost invisible and the repeated depictions of family life when the protganists are children never involve the younger children The eldest son is said to be over 50, yet the eldest daughter the middle child of the 5 is said to be in her thirties this could work, except that they are repeatedly described as being young children together Similarly, the elder and younger daughter are apparently close in age, but the childhood scenes never involve any interaction between the sisters When the three oldest have moved to Seoul, Mom is described as having nothing to live for back in the countryside, which is odd as presumably she had two young children back at home This just seems sloppy in the extreme So why two stars and not just one Well, I did enjoy learning a bit about life in the Korean countryside Especially the loving descriptions of meals I always enjoy those.
Those who have traveled in Southeast Asia and Korea in particular will know right away that the number 4 pinyin s is considered unlucky because it sounds like death pinyin s Why, then, did Korean author Kyung sook Shin carefully craft a novel from four different viewpoints The answer is that the members of this family are unlucky, or at the very least, careless Through years as a family, none of them ever really knew Mom or understood the sources of her strength And now she has disappeared in a crowded Seoul subway station, where she and her husband of 50 years were about to board a train Her disappearance devastates those who are left behind The story is told from four alternating points of view Chi hon, the oldest daughter and a successful novelist, Hyung chol, the oldest son who is wracked with guilt for not living up to his potential, her husband who inevitably disappointed Mom through his selfishness and adultery, and last of all, Mom Little by little, a fuller image of Mom emerges, although we, the readers, never really get to know all the facets of Mom either Chi hon reflects, Either a mother and daughter know each other very well, or they are strangers You realized you d become a stranger as you watched Mom try to conceal her messy everyday life As Chi hon strives to sort out who her Mom really was, she realizes that, because of one thing or another you would push calling her to the end of your list Mom had become superfluous in her busy life, a solid presence who was always a little bit of an enigma.
Hyung chol was the favored son who was both idolized and pressured In the end though, he could not live up to Mom s aspirations and dreams for him Mom s disappearance was triggering events in his memory moments, like the maple leaf doors, he thought he d forgotten about The two adult children and their father realize, too late, that Mom was an integral part of existence Father thinks, When she planted seedlings of eggplant, purple eggplants hung everywhere throughout the summer and into the fall Anything she touched grew in bounty Still, he selfishly ignores her intense headaches and the heartbreaks that Mom is forced to undergo alone When we get to Mom s story, we learn some of the background her arranged marriage, for instance, and a few of the secrets she keeps But it s left to Chi hon to recognize the truth in a letter from her younger sister, Do you remember asking me a little while ago to tell you something I knew about Mom All I knew was that Mom s missing It s the same now I especially don t know where her strength came from Think about it Mom did things that one person couldn t do by herself I think that s why she became emptier and emptier Please Look After Mom is a novel that s distinctly Korean ancestral rite tables, the Full Moon Harvest, plum juice and steamed skate but is also very universal Every view is explored Chi hon and Father s stories are in second person, Hyung chol s is in third person and Mom s is in first person And, while the second person tense can become a little cumbersome, the writing is still direct, moving, and graceful.
It s worth noting that Kyung sook Shin is already a prominent novelist in Korea the book sold nearly one and a half million copies in South Korea Translated expertly by Chi Young Kim, the book is certain to make readers appreciate the hardworking, uncomplaining women who go by the simple endearment Mom.
wait, I need to capitalize this WOWThis story took me through an emotional roller coaster that reminded me of all my personal shortcomings in the relationship department with my own family and my Mom The last time I was this wrecked was when my father passed away of cancer 2 years ago.
The story begins when the 70 year old mother of a family disappears from a Seoul train station The family, 5 grown children and her husband, is desperate to find her and yet, on the other hand, are blaming themselves and each other for not spending time or paying attention to her The book is divided into 4 major sections with 4 narrative voices the oldest daughter, the oldest son, the husband and the mom herself, with a shorter epilogue again narrated by the oldest daughter A second person narration is heavily used in the book.
in all except for the personal narration of Mom It takes a little getting used to but then ultimately one would start to identify with the voice You were the one who always hung up first You would say, Mom, I ll call you back, and then you didn t You didn t have time to sit and listen to everything your Mom had to say Mom was the kitchen and the kitchen was Mom You never wondered, did Mom like being in the kitchen As the story unfolds with each person s narration, we understand a little about Mom, her love for all, her everyday life, her relationship with each of her children, her relationship with her husband and her husband s demanding older sister We come to know that her children and her husband know very little of her, except that she was always there for them, taking care of them When Mom s voice starts narrating at the end, we get the complete picture, almostIt s no coincidence that the Korean word for death is a homonym for the number 4 same in Chinese This is a very sad story to read, yet I can t stop reading, especially toward the end The translation is great, leaving Shin s original writing style unchanged I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves his her Mom.
A beautiful story about the small but heroic sacrifices made by a Korean mother for her family, and the lack of recognition her family gave her until the day she goes missing on the city subway.
The second person narratives while a little disconcerting at times allow each of her children, her husband, and finally the mother herself to share their own experience of her disappearance, and the memories it recalls about their lives before.
The mood is sombre, reflective, and would be heavy if not for the bitter sweet discoveries each one makes of their deeper love for their mother, and their renewed desires to be better people to live up to her generosity and self giving Sadder moments are lifted up by others that are profound, making the overall story a worthwhile read www.
com DNF at 50% Honestly just couldn t get into it
Powerful and unforgettable I actually believe this book has changed me or at least opened my eyes to my own level of participation and shortcomings in my relationships.
This amazing story will rip you to shreds and force you to face difficult questions about your own relationships not just with your mom but with all those people who claim a piece of your life and heart Who are these people who love me so much Why do I take their very existence for granted Do any of these people really know me These are hard questions, and this short book is a warning to you to ask these questions when you still have a chance to answer them You might think you have a strong and open relationship with your mom, dad, sister, spouse, etc.
, but you can always do This story makes you realize that you should take the time to know those you love and also allow them to know you All the relationships in the world are two way, not determined by one side page 132 This is not the sort of book I read, and I d be lying if I said the Korean name on the cover didn t play a part in getting me to crack the spine I tend to give passes to stories I think are lame when they come from Asian countries, it s just where my own cultural preferences lie Even still the story, about a family dealing with the disappearance of their mother in a Seoul subway station, would normally have been a little too old lady book club for me But one detail of the plot, a minor point highlighted on the jacket description, pulled me in as the family gathers to make missing person flyers to distribute, the missing mother s children realize they have no recent photos of her How heartbreaking is that So that little detail got me in the door, since so much of my own never finished creative work is concerned with our inability to ever really know another person, and whether that deficiency is really a deficiency at all, or instead an impossible standard we ve all been convinced to aspire to PLAM deals with these concerns by the shovelful, as the other family members look back on their relationship with their mother wife, re examining shared moments under the colored light cast by her absence.
Shin s big gamble with the book is her narrative technique, primarily telling the story through second person voice when your mother disappeared, you stood outside the station and handed out flyers with your brother and his wife It s a risky move, creative writing teachers usually brandish flaming swords to discourage students from using due to the difficulty in maintaining consistency, but Shin keeps it engaging about 75 per cent of the time.
But 75 per cent is not 100 per cent I rock math and unfortunately the book suffers from its shifting perspectives Similar to Egan s Visit From the Goon Squad, the problem with the shifting voices is if you like one narrator, you might not ever hear them again This isn t as much of a deficiency in PLAM as in Goon Squad, only because none of the narrators are that exceptional I probably preferred the writer daughter to the oldest son, but neither of them are exactly vivd or colorful, a fact I might attribute to the somewhat flat prose of Asian authors when translated to English.
PLAM isn t a bad book, by any means, but I think it might have to say about the mother daughter relationship than the mother son Ultimately, it s a book about the moment when children start to see their parents as individuals, something other than Mom or Dad It s a story worth telling, but I think it would have resonated better with me in a story written by an native English speaker There were many times, moments related to Korean holidays or family memorial altars, where the significance just whooshed past my head, and despite it s book club friendly subject matter, I can see it being a hard sell to those members of my clientele The prose lacks the florid prose that typically fills such books And that s a shame, since I think there s a lot that crowd could get out of it, but they re a stubborn bunch in my experience.
All in all, the book s a fine introduction to a new voice from a place we don t hear very much from in North America, and the push the book seems to be getting would suggest Kyung Sook Shin is an author we ll be hearing from for a few books yet.