Friday, November 9, 2018

Book Review: Please Look After Mom by Kyung Sook Shin

Book: Please Look After Mom by Kyung Sook Shin (translated by Chi Young Kim)

Genre: contemporary literary fiction
Rating: ★ ★ ★ 

This is our first book in our new kpop book club! I'm thinking I might be the only one reading along! LOL! (Maybe Emily will still? )

Anyway, fabulous book, this one is. It's about a Korean family and one day when the older parents (I think they are in their 70's maybe) come to Seoul to visit, the mom gets separated from the dad at the train station. He gets on and she does not. (This has actually happened to us in Rome only we all got off and my husband couldn't get past the crowd to get out and the train left with him still on it!)

And now they can't find her. So they begin to search everywhere, with no luck.

As they search, we learn all about this family. The first part is from the POV of the daughter (using second person which was strange at first, but then you get the hang of it) We learn this daughter has grown up to be a famous author (making me wonder if much of this story is based on the author's real life family) and she and her mom have not really got a long much of late, but she had noticed a few times when she visited that her mom wasn't doing too well, but hadn't said anything. We learn lots of other things too.

The second part is from the oldest son's POV, this time in third person. And we learn many other things about their mom. How she was so hard working, and did so much for her family. And how everyone pretty much just took her for granted. The story flips between past and present a lot... between these kids growing up and the current day as they try to find her.

The third part is from the husband's POV, back to second person. And he is feeling bad about all the crap he gave his wife, like leaving her for another woman. But then coming back as if nothing had happened. We learn about their first meeting and their backgrounds. We also learn some interesting things about the mom that no one knew. She had her secrets.

The fourth part is now from the mom's POV, which is told in first person. And it's a bit stream of conscious and a bit hard to follow as she bounces from place to place and person to person. Is she a ghost now? It seems something like that, but it is never really explained. But we get her thoughts about all the people in her family, especially the ones we've just met. Also, more secrets!

Finally, we are back with the daughter who ends the story with an epilogue that ties it all together.

And so we are left with this overwhelming powerful feeling to love those that are with us WHILE they are with us. And to have no regrets about your relationships. To not leave things unsaid. And most especially, to not take your mom for granted! And to realize that she is a person just like you are with her desires and dreams. That she wasn't BORN a mom, but is a normal person like we all are.

All of this while also learning about the Korean culture... both now and in the recent past. Kimchi and rice. Ancestral rites. Holidays. Buying your family underwear with your first paycheck! (I get a kick out of that one!) And so many more. It was all fun and fascinating. I do wish they would have left in a few Korean words. They said Mom so many times, I think if they would have left that one iin we would have caught on, you know? And it would have given it a little more Korean flavor I think. But just a thought in passing here...

I really enjoyed it and think this was a great book for our first kpop book club pick! What's next????


  1. I finished it a couple days ago! I loved it too! This is such a great review! I couldn't have said it better myself. No really, I don't have a way with words XD. I agree, they should have thrown some Korean words in like Eomma. I listened to it on audio and they had different narrators for every character. It was a lot easier to follow that way but it was still confusing when they would say like "your brother" speaking about themselves.

    1. Yay! You read it! :) The audio does sound interesting. I'm sure it would have helped with all the POV back and forths!



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