Sunday, March 28, 2010

Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Nyui Choi

Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Nyui Choi was a book that left me with some mixed feelings after reading. There were some aspects I really enjoyed. However, during various parts of this book I found myself sidetracked and slightly confused. This book followed the life of Sookan and her family regarding their struggles they faced while living in Korea. In the beginning, the author focuses on their life under the Japanese rule. However, towards the end of the book, the focus is on Russia's involvement. Because of these occupations, life for Sookan and her family was very hard at times. They were ordered to follow the rules of others and many times that conflicted with their personal beliefs.
My favorite aspect of this book was the authors portrayal of the Japanese and Russian involvement in Korea and how it impacted Sookan and her family. It seemed very honest and did not sugarcoat the negative effects it had on their lives. The author explained the procedures, jobs, relationships, and ways of life in a way that made me feel as though I understood what was happening. However, I would have liked to have more of an explanation or more insight into how the adults felt about their situation. The book was from Sookan's perspective, however, so I can see why this would be omitted.
There were a few things about this book that I did not really like. One thing that bothered me the most was the passing of time. I was unsure of how much time had gone by between chapters. I would have liked that to be clearer. Also, at time I felt as though I was reading the same thing. I think I would have been more attentive if the author had decided to discuss more of the "daily life". I remember the parts that focused on the family troubles and community practices the most.
Overall, I think this book was alright. There were good aspects as well as others that I did not really enjoy. For a teacher who wanted to discuss the war/involvement of Korea, I think this book would be able to offer students a good insight.

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