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THE KINSHIP OF SECRETS

Though the novel is quiet and occasionally dense with historical exposition, it offers a valuable window into Korean history...

Two sisters, estranged by circumstance, seek to forge a bond and understand their individual and shared histories.

Inja and Miran are near twins. Remarkably close in age, both are artistic and sensitive. But when the novel opens, in 1950, the two girls live on separate continents: When Miran’s parents left South Korea for the United States, they were only able to travel with one child. They chose Miran, who had been in poor health as an infant, and left Inja behind with her maternal grandparents, aunt and uncle. Though the family had planned to return for Inja, North Korean troops invade South Korea and war breaks out. Inja and her relatives are displaced to Busan, enduring hunger, cold, and constant instability; in America, Miran struggles to understand her parents’ anxiety and helplessness as they wait for news. The novel stretches from the early 1950s through the mid-'70s, alternating between Inja’s adolescence in a divided Korea and Miran’s coming-of-age in a differently tumultuous USA. Based loosely on Kim’s (The Calligrapher’s Daughter, 2009) own family history, as detailed in the author’s note, this elegant though frequently sentimental novel relies on the power of family secrets to propel the reader through the sisters’ lives. Inja, contemplating all she does not know of her American family—and vice versa—notes “the strange kind of power one gained from holding secrets.” Will Inja ever know the sister who is practically her twin? Will either sister ever truly understand Korea or America, or will they continue to exist in the space between?

Though the novel is quiet and occasionally dense with historical exposition, it offers a valuable window into Korean history as well as to issues like immigration and assimilation that couldn’t be more relevant today.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-328-98782-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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MAGIC HOUR

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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