Monday, August 28, 2006

No Ghosts

I don't know why, but I was anticipating death. It must have been the combination of the cover and title that lead me to prepare for death, dying or hauntings. Look at it! You've got some ethereal clouds, but you are above the clouds floating in nothingness, just an overexposed eye peaking out. This totally should have been a ghost story.

However, it wasn't. It was a short novel narrated in alternating chapters by sisters who are struggling with their mother's expectations of them. Mina is expected to be the savior of the family - getting into a good school and earning enough money to take care of everyone. The only problem is that Mina isn't that great of a student and has been lying and covering up the evidence, as well stealing from the family business. Suna wants nothing more than for her mother to love her, but her mother seems incapable of showing any affection toward the younger, mostly deaf child. Suna is damaged and Uhmma can't forget that.

This wasn't all that fun to read. It was well written and far better than the last Asian-American experience novel I read. I didn't really like Mina all that much. Suna I just felt sorry for and wished she'd grow up a bit (which is totally unfair of me). It was the supporting characters that sparkled, if some of them still remained two dimensional. The father, long suffering. The Latino worker/love interest. What was most interesting to me, and what took me the longest to catch on to, was that when the characters were speaking Korean it didn't appear in quotations or with any of the standard indications of dialogue. It just flowed along with the text and you just figured out what was going on. Uncomfortable at first, but oh, how we adjust. Stealing, lying & complete disrespect of authority figures (isn't that one of the complaints for Bridge to Terabithia?), oh and very subtle sex. 14+

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