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Saturday, 24 January 2015

Year of Impossible Goodbyes



By Sook Nyul Choi
5 Stars
Historical
Adult

This book was found in my children's homeschooling library. It was part of Sonlight one of the curriculums that we used. It was part of their history lessons. They have a stack of similar books several of which I have read and may offer reviews of in the future. Some of them are straight non-fiction such as this one and others are historical fiction. Both genres are of interest to me.


This is Sook Nyul Choi's story. She was born in Pyongyang during the Japanese occupation of Korea. The story begins when she is ten years old. The Japanese are cruel masters and they live in hopeless fear of them. Sook's mother manages a small factory that makes socks for Japanese soldiers. They toil under the sadistic leadership of Captain Narita whose wife is the school teacher for Sook. She is a match for her husband.

There seemed to be momentary hope when the Japanese surrendered and started going home. They were replaced by the Communist Russians who insidiously turned Koreans against each other. Trapped in the North under Communist rule they risked everything to escape to the south and freedom.

What human beings are capable of doing to each other is absolutely horrifying. There were scenes in the book that almost brought me to tears. Other parts made me angry. The story is not for the faint of heart but it is definitely worth reading. It brings home lessons none of us should forget. It took me a couple of days to come down from the emotion of the story before I could sit down and write this.

It is well written but the power of the story will likely cause you not to notice one way or the other. Definitely deserves the five star rating I give. Highly recommended.