Saturday, March 03, 2012

2012 book 63

Catherine Chung's Forgotten Country
The description of this book, copied and pasted from Amazon, reads: "On the night Janie waits for her sister, Hannah, to be born, her grandmother tells her a story: Since the Japanese occupation of Korea, their family has lost a daughter in every generation, so Janie is charged with keeping Hannah safe. As time passes, Janie hears more stories, while facts remain unspoken. Her father tells tales about numbers, and in his stories everything works out. In her mother's stories, deer explode in fields, frogs bury their loved ones in the ocean, and girls jump from cliffs and fall like flowers into the sea. Within all these stories are warnings. Years later, when Hannah inexplicably cuts all ties and disappears, Janie embarks on a mission to find her sister and finally uncover the truth beneath her family's silence. To do so, she must confront their history, the reason for her parents' sudden move to America twenty years earlier, and ultimately her conflicted feelings toward her sister and her own role in the betrayal behind their estrangement."

Which sounds great, right? But it seemed to me that it wasn't about that at all.  The description makes it sound almost mythical, but it's just a story about a mildly dysfunctional family and what happens when the father is diagnosed with cancer. The Korean immigrant stuff was interesting, but Chung didn't do too much with that, and one big reveal just feels cheap and sad. Everything feels . . . unresolved. Maybe it was all the hype this book was gotten or my own expectations, but either way, I was sort of disappointed. Don't get me wrong, this is a strong enough story (though, like I said, nothing feels resolved), just not what I wanted to read. B.

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