Thursday, August 15, 2013

Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin

There are books that bring me to tears. There are books that bring me close to tears. This book is either one of the two (I definitely teared up, but I was also chatting to my friend at the same time, so the emotional impact may have been lessened).

Please Look After Mom is a close look at how three members of a family react when the mom of the family goes missing. It is quite strange that two of the children are ignored completely, but if they are added, well, it doesn't seem as though anything will be enriched.

To be honest, this book reminds me of the (also Korean) movie The Way Home. Specifically, it reminds me of the scene where the spoilt grandson wants KFC and the grandmother, not understanding, exchanges her melons for a chicken and prepares boiled chicken. I was crying and I really wanted to shake some sense into that little boy.

What this book is, is a look at a Korean family. Actually, I dare say a look at an Asian family (Chinese/Korean/Japanese to be very specific - because of the influence of Confucianism on these cultures). The disappearance of the mom prompts soul searching and it leads this family to realise the mom they have taken for granted is so much more than the role she was pigeon-holed into.

One interesting characteristic of the book is that it's told mostly in the second-person point of view. At first, I thought it was because first-person was too immediate (and harder to be convincing emotionally), while third person was too distant. But the author managed to pull together the narrative technique with the storyline to provide a sense of closure. It's a very neat trick and the second-person narrative was well-done.

All in all, I really liked this book. It's a touching story, and well, I suppose because it's somehow inherently Asian, I relate to it better than to other books about dysfunctional families/families finding out more about themselves that I read.

1 comment :

  1. It took me hours to finish this book not because of the volume but I could not stop crying after crying.
    I love this book even though some careless reviewer revealed the end of story. As a daughter of my mother, this book made me to look back my life again. I can really tell this book changed me. I wrote a letter to my mom thanking that I am her daughter.
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