Synopses & Reviews
Like the author's first three novels, this is historical fiction set in Korea. This time the period is World War II, during the Japanese occupation. Told alternately by a young girl, Sun-hee, and her older brother, Tae-yul, the story traces the gradual suppression of every aspect of Korean culture by the occupying forces and the effects of these changes on Sun-hee and Tae-yul and their family. Their beloved uncle is secretly involved in the Resistance movement, and when Sun-hee misunderstands and relays a cryptic warning given by a Japanese schoolmate, Uncle disappears into hiding. Tae-yul is fascinated with airplanes and enlists in the Japanese army, leaving Sun-hee the responsibility of "reading between the lines" of his heavily censored letters. His assignment as a kamikaze pilot and his reported death are a shocking plot twist that leads despite all to a hopeful ending, as the Japanese surrender brings the war to a close. Dramatic, suspenseful, and thoroughly researched, this is an ambitious piece of storytelling that illuminates an aspect of this war unfamiliar to most American young people.*
This powerful and riveting tale of one close-knit, proud Korean family movingly addresses life-and-death issues of courage and collaboration, injustice, and death-defying determination in the face of totalitarian oppression. —Kirkus Reviews with Pointers
A brother and sister alternate as narrators in Newbery Medalist Park's (A Single Shard) well-contructed novel, which takes place from 1940-1945 in Japanese-occupied Korea. . . .Through the use of shifting narrators, Park subtly points up the differences between male and female roles in Korean society; and the father's process of choosing the family's Japanese name speaks volumes about his strength and intelligence. . . . Readers will come away with an appreciation of this period of history and likely a greater interest in learning more about it. —Publishers Weekly, Starred
Park is a masterful prose stylist, and her characters are developed beautifully. She excels at making traditional Korean culture accessible to Western readers. —VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)
The drama is in the facts about the war, and Park does a fine job of showing how the politics of the occupation and resistance affect ordinary people. —Booklist, ALA
What is outstanding is the insight Park gives into the complex minds of these young people. Each of them reacts to the events in different ways—Sun-hee takes refuge in writing while Tae-yul throws his energies into physical work. . . . This beautifully crafted and moving novel joins a small but growing body of literature[.] —School Library Journal, Starred
"Vivid…historical details heighten realism. The final scene shines with hope….a beautifully crafted story that delights as it informs." —Riverbank Review
Sun-hee and her older brother Tae-yul are proud of their Korean heritage. Yet they live their lives under Japanese occupation. All students must read and write in Japanese and no one can fly the Korean flag. Hardest of all is when the Japanese Emperor forces all Koreans to take Japanese names. Sun-hee and Tae-yul become Keoko and Nobuo. Korea is torn apart by their Japanese invaders during World War II. Everyone must help with war preparations, but it doesnt mean they are willing to defend Japan. Tae-yul is about to risk his life to help his family, while Sun-hee stays home guarding life-and-death secrets.
Sun-hee and her older brother, Tae-yul, live in Korea with their parents. Because Korea is under Japanese occupation, the children study Japanese and speak it at school. Their own language, their flag, the folktales Uncle tells them—even their names—are all part of the Korean culture that is now forbidden. When World War II comes to Korea, Sun-hee is surprised that the Japanese expect their Korean subjects to fight on their side. But the greatest shock of all comes when Tae-yul enlists in the Japanese army in an attempt to protect Uncle, who is suspected of aiding the Korean resistance. Sun-hee stays behind, entrusted with the life-and-death secrets of a family at war.
About the Author
Linda Sue Park is the author of the Newbery Medal book A Single Shard, many other novels, several picture books, and most recently a book of poetry: Tap Dancing on the Roof: Sijo (Poems). She lives in Rochester, New York, with her family, and is now a devoted fan of the New York Mets. For more infromation visit www.lspark.com.