Algonquin Books|April 25, 2012|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-1-61620-077-0
Before she met Il-sun in an orphanage, Gi was a hollow husk of a girl, broken from growing up in one of North Korea’s forced labour camps. A mathematical genius, she has learned to cope with pain by retreating into a realm of numbers and calculations, an escape from both the past and present. Gi becomes enamored of the brash and radiant II-sun, a friend she describes as all woman and springtime. But II-sun’s pursuit of a better life imperils both girls when her suitor spirits them across the Demilitarized Zone and sells them as sex workers, first in South Korea and then in the United States. This spellbinding debut, reminiscent of ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’, depicts with chilling accuracy life behind North Korea’s iron curtain. But for Gi and II-sun, forced into the underworld of human trafficking, their captivity outside North Korea is far crueler than the tight control of their Dear Leader. Tender-hearted Gi, just on the verge of womanhood, is consigned to a fate that threatens not only her body but her mind. How she and II-sun endure, how they find a path to healing, is what drives this absorbing and exquisite novel from an exciting young Algonquin discovery to its perfectly imagined conclusion.
This was a fascinating, fast-paced story without a minute to put the book down! Being caught up in the lives of Jasmine, Gi, II-sun and Cho was undeniably real. I felt like I was being tugged along with these four women as they struggled through their daily lives, trying to make sense of who and what they are. Being sold into prostitution was a huge blow to their ego’s and their inexperience was shamelessly embarrassing to watch. My heart bled for these young women as they were forced into things they never even dreamed about. Stripped bare of their innocence and purity was hard to swallow.
Brandon W. Jones hit the mark with this one, showcasing the realities of human trafficking and what that type of life does to a person. The ending was so sad and one I never saw coming and cried over. All that angelic innocence lost forever. I would highly recommend this book to everyone, don’t miss it!!