Reading Recommendations: All Woman and Springtime, a novel by Brandon W. Jones
Before she met II-sun in the orphanage, Gyong-ho, known as Gi, was a hollow husk of a girl, broken from growing up in one of North Korea's forced labor camps. A mathematical genius, she 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 with 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 impressive literary debut 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 capacity outside North Korea proves far crueler than the tight control of their "Dear Leader". Tenderhearted Gi, just on the verge of womanhood, is consigned to a fate that threatens not only her body but her mind. Yet in the face of mounting injustice, it's Gi and II-sun's extraordinary resilience that gives this spellbinding story its power.I've thought long and hard about bringing All Woman and Springtime to review. Brimming with heartache and hope in equal measure, Jones has a gift for empathy as well as a keen sense of justice. This book will open your eyes, break your heart, and then mend it again. It's raw, it's out there.
And, I am Forbidden, a novel, Anouk Markovits
Sweeping from the central European countryside just before World War II, to Paris, to contemporary Williamsburg, Brooklyn; I am Forbidden brings to life four generations of one Satmar family.In 1939 Transylvania, five-year-old Josef witnesses the murder of his family by the Romanian Iron Guard and is rescued by a Gentile maid who raises him as her own son. Five years later, Josef rescues a young girl, Mila, after her parents are killed while running to meet the Rebbe they hoped would save them. Josef helps Mila reach Zalman Stern, a leader in the Satmar community, in whose home Mila is raised as a sister to Zalman's daughter, Atara. As the two girls mature, Mila's faith intensifies, while her beloved sister discovers a world of books and learning that she cannot ignore. With the rise of Communism in central Europe, the family moves to Paris, to the Marais, where Zalman tries to raise his children apart from the city in which they live.When the two girls come of age, Mila marries within the faith, while Atara continues to question fundamentalist doctrine. The different choices the two sisters make force them apart until a dangerous secret threatens to banish them from the only community they've ever known.A beautifully crafted, emotionally gripping story of what happens when unwavering love, unyielding law, and centuries of tradition collide. I am Forbidden announces the arrival of a new voice and opens a window on a world long closed to most of us, until now.
And, The House of Velvet and Glass, a novel, Katherine Howe
Still reeling from the deaths of her mother and sister on the Titanic, Sibyl Allston is living a life of quiet desperation with her taciturn father and scandal-plagued brother in an elegant town house in Boston's Back Bay. Trapped in a world over which she has no control, Sibyl flees for solace to the parlor of a table-turning medium. But when her brother is suddenly kicked out of Harvard under mysterious circumstances and falls under the sway of a strange young woman, Sibyl turns for help to psychology professor Benton Derby, despite the unspoken tensions of their shared past. As Benton and Sibyl work together to solve a harrowing mystery, their long-simmering spark flares to life, and they realize that there may be something even more magical between them than a medium's serving glass.From the opium dens of Boston's Chinatown to the opulent salons of high society, from the back alleys of colonial Shanghai to the decks of the Titanic, The House of Velvet and Glass weaves together meticulous period detail, intoxicating romance, and a final twist that will leave readers breathless.
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