Shin, Kyung-sook. Please Look After Mom
Booklist Reviews 2010 December #2
This novel from widely acclaimed Korean author Shin focuses on motherhood and family guilt. Park So-nyo, mother of four now-adult children, has gone missing in a Seoul train station on the way to visit them. The novel is told in four parts, from the perspectives of, first, her daughter, and then, her firstborn son, her husband, and finally, So-nyo herself. Composed almost entirely in second-person narration, the writing is sharp, biting, and intensely moving. So-nyo's children continually battle with their own guilt for not taking better care of her while reminiscing about the times when they were young, growing up in incredible poverty in the countryside. The children come to terms with their mother's absence in their own ways, and their father repents for a lifetime of neglect. When So-nyo's voice enters the narrative, the portrait of a troubled but loving family is complete. Secrets are revealed, and the heart of a mother is beautifully exposed. This Korean million-plus-copy best-seller is an impressive exploration of family love, poverty, and triumphing over hardship. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2010 November #1
In Shin's first book translated into English, a million-copy best seller in South Korea that has been sold to 18 countries, a woman in from the countryside is separated from her husband in the Seoul train station, and the family spends the rest of the novel hunting for her. At first look, this would appear to be one of those quietly blunt-spoken books that keeps gathering strength, and Shin has the credentials to back great expectations: she's won numerous awards in Korea, plus France's Prix de l'Inaperçu. Could go big; grab the reading group guide.[Page 46]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
LJ Reviews 2010 December #1
The Korean title of this indelible novel, Omma rul put'ak hae, contains a sense of commanding trust that is missing in its English translation: "I entrust Mommy [to you]." That trust is irreparably splintered when Mom disappears after becoming separated from her rushing husband on a busy Seoul Station platform. In four distinct voices, the character of Mom—a rural farmwoman whose "hands could nurture any life"—is reassembled by her eldest daughter, whose books Mom couldn't read; her eldest son, for whom she could never do enough; her husband, who never slowed down; and finally Mom herself as she wanders through memories both strange and familiar. Shin's breathtaking novel is an acute reminder of how easily a family can fracture, how little we truly know one another, and how desperate need can sometimes overshadow even the deepest love. VERDICT Already a prominent writer in Korea, Shin finally makes her English-language debut with what will appeal to all readers who appreciate compelling, page-turning prose. Stay tuned: Mom should be one of this year's most-deserving best sellers. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/10.]—Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC[Page 109]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Sixty-nine-year-old Park So-nyo has gone missing. Her husband lost her in the crowd while boarding a train at the Seoul Station. Searching for their mother, each family member wants to blame the others for her disappearance, yet each feels wounded and overwhelmed with concern and guilt. The broken-hearted father regrets neglecting his wife's needs, thinking of her as "merely [the] children's mother," while the adult children become nostalgic, recalling their mother's vivacious personality and imaginative stories. A son reveals his earlier desire to become successful so that he could give his mother a better a life. A daughter recalls their conversations about food, lamenting that she "never thought of Mom as separate from the kitchen." Shin paints a luminous and moving portrait of family and women's lives. - "Short Takes", Booksmack! 8/4/11 (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2010 December #1
Shin's affecting English-language debut centers on the life of a hardworking, uncomplaining woman who goes missing in a bustling Seoul subway station. After Park So-nyo's disappearance, her grown children and her husband are filled with guilt and remorse at having taken So-nyo for granted and reflect, in a round-robin of narration, on her life and role in their lives. Having, through Mom's unstinting dedication, achieved professional success, her children understand for the first time the hardships she endured. Her irresponsible and harshly critical husband, meanwhile, finally acknowledges the depth of his love and the seriousness of her sacrifices for him. Narrating in her own voice late in the book, the spirit of Mom watches her family and finally voices her lifelong loneliness and depression and recalls the one secret in her life. As memories accrue, the narrative becomes increasingly poignant and psychologically revealing of all the characters, and though it does sometimes go soggy with pathos, most readers should find resonance in this family story, a runaway bestseller in Korea poised for a similar run here. (Apr.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC