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The Island of Sea Women
The Island of Sea Women: A Novel | Lisa See
A new novel from Lisa See, the New York Times bestselling author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, about female friendship and family secrets on a small Korean island. Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends that come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their villages all-female diving collective, led by Young-sooks mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility but also danger. Despite their love for each other, Mi-ja and Young-sooks differences are impossible to ignore. The Island of Sea Women is an epoch set over many decades, beginning during a period of Japanese colonialism in the 1930s and 1940s, followed by World War II, the Korean War and its aftermath, through the era of cell phones and wet suits for the women divers. Throughout this time, the residents of Jeju find themselves caught between warring empires. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, and she will forever be marked by this association. Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mothers position leading the divers in their village. Little do the two friends know that after surviving hundreds of dives and developing the closest of bonds, forces outside their control will push their friendship to the breaking point. This beautiful, thoughtful novel illuminates a world turned upside down, one where the women are in charge, engaging in dangerous physical work, and the men take care of the children. A classic Lisa See storyone of womens friendships and the larger forces that shape themThe Island of Sea Women introduces readers to the fierce and unforgettable female divers of Jeju Island and the dramatic history that shaped their lives.
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SanjanaGhosh
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Pickpick

"Joy is a delicious luxury that we experience most cautiously for tragedy conceals itself around every corner. How different it is with friendship. No one picks a friend for us; we come together by choice. We are not tied together through ceremony or the responsibility to create a son; we tie ourselves together through moments. The spark when we first meet. Laughter and tears shared. Secrets packed away to be treasured, hoarded and protected..."

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451Degrees
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Pickpick

Wowza this was a hefty book. Absolutely heartbreaking novel set on a small island, Jeju, off of South Korea. Between present day and the years of WWII and the Korean War, a story of friendship and hardship, life and death, love and sorrow.

41 likes1 stack add
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Kelican17
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Pickpick

I really liked this book. I learned a lot about the matrifocal societies and the atrocities of war- even if I did have to stop reading and google some info to help me better understand their story. 👍🏻👍🏻

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Blackink_WhitePaper
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#Alphabetgame #LetterI

Another fav book is I know why the caged bird sings.

Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks On my shelf!! 4mo
34 likes1 comment
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LibraryCin
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Mehso-so

Good story, though it didn‘t move quickly. I learned a lot about Jeju island and the historical happenings there and in Korea. Also learned about the women divers, which was definitely interesting. It was a bit frustrating, though, with the women being so prominent in that society, yet boys were still more highly prized. The women worked not only to feed their family and make money, but that money was to be spent on educating the boys.

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MerlinTheSlightlyAwkward
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Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks Haha! So true! 6mo
18 likes1 stack add1 comment
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Allylu
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Pickpick

Lisa See is brilliant! This is a terribly wonderful book. It is about two women whose love for each other is all-encompassing, then the tragedies of their lives in Korea and just in life separate them. You just have to read the book to understand. It‘s so good. #44 #BookSpin #9 #BFC22 #BOOKED2022 eco-feminist #2022AUTHORAMONTH March #Pantone2022Colour FragileSprout #Hikeathon

Cinfhen I tried reading this awhile back & couldn‘t get into it! Your review makes me want to try again 😁 7mo
Allylu @Cinfhen I listened to the audiobook which gives perspective. As I said, some of the things that happened were terrible, but I cried at the end because I was so moved. 7mo
TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!!! 7mo
See All 6 Comments
Clwojick I‘ve read so many good things about this author! I‘ll have to check her out! 7mo
Clwojick Thanks! 7mo
28 likes6 comments
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Blackink_WhitePaper
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Pickpick

A beautiful historical fiction set in Jeju Island. The concept of Haenyo ( sea women ) who harvest sea animals just by diving into the sea is new to me. Interesting concept & learnt a lot about colonial rule in Korea & freedom struggles. It‘s d story of struggle, loss, hardship, hope friendship, with both past & present prospectives. strong female characters, well researched & gives vivid details about different culture & customs. A solid 5⭐️

Blackink_WhitePaper Though I am late, happy that I finished this book for March #AuthorAmonth 😊 7mo
Soubhiville I thought this book was wonderful. And I haven‘t seen this cover, I like it! Congratulations on finishing it! 😁 7mo
44 likes1 stack add2 comments
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DrexEdit
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This also ticks a couple more boxes on the #Pantone2022 challenge list.
#FragileSprout
#SuperSonic
@Clwojick

Clwojick Awesome!!! 8mo
40 likes1 comment
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DrexEdit
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Pickpick

Catching up with March #AuthorAMonth. This was totally different from the only other Lisa See book I've read-Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. The women portrayed were incredibly strong & resilient. This was a VERY brutal story of colonization & war set against the story that centers on these women trying to preserve their culture. The fiction is heartbreaking but I found the history to be fascinating.
#AuthorAMonth
@Soubhiville

DrexEdit Here's an excellent video on the Culture of Korean Jeju Haenyeo (women divers) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lk7DQLMKBTE 8mo
Soubhiville Thank you for sharing your video find! 8mo
45 likes2 comments
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Susanita
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Pickpick

The ending was surprisingly rushed, but overall this was an interesting book. I won‘t say pleasant, because there were some truly hair raising and cringe worthy moments, but I enjoyed getting to know this group of resilient and persistent women doing the thing and caring for their families. Side by side with the sweeping history is a personal drama about friendship and betrayal. #authoramonth

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mom2bugnbee
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Mehso-so

Have to admit that there WERE places in this book that made me sigh in delight. I love sweeping, multi-generational family epics. This one just didn't grab me like, say, Pachinko did. I continue to love that #Authoramonth2022 is introducing me to unknown-to-me authors. @Soubhiville

⭐⭐✨/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Soubhiville I‘m sorry you didn‘t love it. 8mo
mom2bugnbee @Soubhiville Oh, that's okay! Not every author is for every person. I appreciate that you've introduced me to so many new authors! 8mo
33 likes2 comments
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Melismatic
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Pickpick

I‘m reading so much historical fiction this year! I enjoyed this, altho I do feel the end was a bit rushed. Tells the story of two women who were once close and grew apart over the course of 80ish years on Jeju Island in South Korea. The women were Haenyo - or female divers who were often the main income providers for their families.

#AuthorAMonth

wanderinglynn Great photo! 8mo
Soubhiville Pretty cardinal! 8mo
Melismatic @wanderinglynn thank you! ❤️ 8mo
35 likes4 comments
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Frankies.space
Mehso-so

Set in Jeju. Haenyeo divers and a matriarchal society where women are the breadwinners. Devastating scenes as Japanese colonisation came to an end for American troops. Two friends.

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Butterfinger
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Pickpick

I have enjoyed every one of Lisa See's books I have read. She takes an unknown culture and makes it alive in my imagination. I just love her writing. I understood Young-sook's anguish and anger. The moment of Mi-ja's betrayal is heartbreaking. I couldn't sleep without revisiting the images evoked. And now I know a little bit about the haenyeo life. Just wow! I look forward to more, but my heart can't take it right now. #AuthorAMonth @Soubhiville

62 likes4 stack adds
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UwannaPublishme
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Pickpick

This book has so many layers to it—the captivating tradition of these resilient women divers, the atrocities of the Korean War, the heavy themes of friendship & forgiveness. The vast amount of research Lisa does (all herself!) for these books is mind-boggling! This one is haunting and heart wrenching, yet masterfully curated and beautifully written. Not my typical read, but certainly a powerful one I won‘t soon forget.
#AuthorAMonth
@Soubhiville

Tera66 I loved this one. 8mo
UwannaPublishme @Tera66 😊👍🏻 8mo
56 likes2 comments
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staci.reads
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Pickpick

A remarkable story of tragedy, strength, friendship, and womanhood! Another "I'm so glad I stuck with it" situation! I wasn't sure how I was going to feel until I got to the last 3rd of the book. I had a hard time getting into it, but that may have been more my state of mind. Two weeks post knee surgery, I'm finally able to focus on my reading again...might be that I'm weaned off the "good" pain pills now ? ?. #AuthorAMonth @Soubhiville

Soubhiville I hope your recovery continues to go well. 8mo
AmyG May your recovery go well. Knee surgery is not fun. 8mo
UwannaPublishme Keep feeling better! 🤗 8mo
74 likes1 stack add4 comments
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KatieDid927
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Mehso-so

I can be picky about historical fiction. I think traumatic and violent historical events should be used cautiously when writing fiction for entertainment, and I don‘t feel like the author was thoughtful enough here. The story of Jeju is fascinating and heartbreaking, but I‘m not okay with using real history to maximize the emotional manipulation of the reader. I would‘ve preferred a non-fiction book on these topics. #AuthorAMonth @Soubhiville

AmyG I‘m reading this now....a bit of a struggle if I am going to be honest. 8mo
KatieDid927 @AmyG It's a fine line, but I think there are ways historical fiction can be done REALLY well (for me The Sympathizer is a great example). I just don't feel like it was here. In the middle the story lost all momentum to make way for historical exposition, and it dragged. Then there was a moment I almost bailed, but I pushed through to the end as I was over halfway through. Did not enjoy it overall. 8mo
AmyG I am about a fifth of the way in and I may just bail and call it a day. Not a fan of this author at all as I already bailed on Dreams of Joy. 8mo
KatieDid927 @AmyG Oh man, and it only gets worse haha. I actually liked the first fifth. 😬 8mo
48 likes4 comments
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Bookwormjillk
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Pickpick

This was a re-read for me, this time over audio. I really enjoyed this unique story both times I‘ve read it. #AuthorAMonth2022

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vlwelser
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Pickpick
jlhammar Really enjoyed this one! 9mo
TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!!! 9mo
Soubhiville Yay! Glad you liked it. 9mo
45 likes3 comments
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Teresereading
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Pickpick

Beautifully told Haenjo women divers' family story spanning generations. Set against backdrop WW2 and the Korean War.
Bookclub favourite.

LoverOfLearning What a BEAUTIFUL cover. wow 9mo
17 likes1 comment
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BarkingMadRead
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Starting book 2 of the challenge, asking friends to recommend books!

50 likes1 stack add
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coffeebooksandchaos
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Pickpick

The Island of the Sea Women was a truly unique book. It tells the story of the haenyeo of the island of Jeju. I was entirely unfamiliar with these women or this place before delving into this story. Lisa See does a tremendous job of painting the world in rich details. The story is not a happy one, spanning decades of war in which people lost so much, but the themes of enduring love, motherhood, friendship and forgiveness are deeply meaningful.

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rebbyj
Pickpick

Amazing.

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sblbooks
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#BestOf2021Swap @candority Thanks for hosting this swap! @Texreader I am beyond excited to read The Exiles, and the tagged book sounds very interesting. Thank you for all my other goodies like the bookmarks, Notepad, the Jenny Lawson book, puzzle and chocolate! The card is really cute, and I love the idea of having a postcard from your area! Happy New Year!🎉

monalyisha Oh, that fudge! I am 100% a chocolate peppermint gal! 😍 Happy New Year! 🎉✨ 11mo
sblbooks @monalyisha thanks the fudge is amazing! 11mo
candority Super jealous of the puzzle! And the fudge 🤤 11mo
45 likes1 stack add3 comments
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Susanita
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1. Sue Grafton, Tolkien, Laura Lippman
2. Zaphod Beeblebrox from H2G2
3. Tagged book for #authoramonth 2022
#wondrouswednesday

Eggs Well done-thanks for playing ❤️📚🥰 12mo
27 likes1 comment
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jenniferharenda
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This is great! My sister recommended it to me and it cracked my 8 month long reading slump in which I rarely could open a book, and couldn't finish the ones I did open. Well developed characters, and it opened my eyes to a culture and history I previously was not aware of. Likeable main character, even if she wasn't always right.

marleed I‘m so excited to reread this for my irl bookclub in 2022! Those women rock - and dive! 13mo
5 likes1 stack add1 comment
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Bookboss
This post contains spoilers
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Pickpick

This is a wonderful novel about friendship, family, and forgiveness. The bright cover is misleading because the author describes dark, violent scenes from the Jeju April 4 incident in which hundreds of men, women, and children were murdered. This book had me searching the internet for the history behind the fiction. I finished this book a few weeks ago, and it has stayed with me. This is historical fiction at its best.

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Dalaine
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Pickpick

Such a heartbreaking and beautiful novel. I knew so little about the history and the people put forth in this story. I read it while visiting Jeju and it made me experience this island in a much different way than I would have without having been introduced to the character of Young-sook. I know that this is a book that I will be thinking about for a very long time.

9 likes1 stack add
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sarahlandis
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Pickpick

This was phenomenal. A historical fiction (I don‘t normally read) about women divers, Haenyeo, on Jeju Island in Korea. Told through the perspective of Young-sook throughout her entire life starting in the early 1900s stretching all the way until the early 2000s. Her life through Japanese and American occupation is devastating and inspiring to read. The haenyeo and the war crimes on Jeju are very real things and it was so interesting to read

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Texreader
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#thoughtfulthursday Thanks @Eggs for the tag!

1) Dracula, The Historian, Rebecca—all more times than I can count

2) Absolutely

@MoonWitch94

Nute Yay, The Historian!🙂 1y
46 likes2 comments
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Kangaj1
Pickpick

This was such a compelling read. I visited Cheju Island when I was a teen, and I do not remember much. #bookspin @TheAromaofBooks

TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!! 1y
19 likes1 comment
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Kangaj1
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BookBelle84 My favourite Lisa See book! 1y
TheAromaofBooks Woohoo!! I've been meaning to check out more of See's work, so I'll be interested to hear your thoughts!! 1y
19 likes2 comments
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Cindyelizavaz
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Pickpick

This was such a haunting read. The brutalities of war made me sick in my gut but this is also a book about the incredible strength of women, and friendship, and forgiveness. I haven‘t read an Asian lit I loved as much as this in a long time. This book is a masterclass.

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Amoon
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Pickpick

What an epic novel! This is the story of women who live on Korea‘s Jujju Island. They dive into the sea for all sorts of sea creatures to sell or eat. The water can be frigid and can be dangerous due to currents. Young Suk and Mi-ja are close friends from early childhood. The years are 1938-2004. They suffer during the Japanese occupation . Very deeply emotional and uplifting.

Amoon Sorry, photo cut off the bottom word 2y
2 likes1 comment
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Eggs
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This beautiful, thoughtful novel illuminates a unique and unforgettable culture, one where the women are in charge, engaging in dangerous physical work, and the men take care of the children.
#matriarch #maycharacters @Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks @Eggs

Tera66 I LOVED this book! So good! 2y
Eggs Yes!! Also Snow Flower and the Secret Fan 2y
KarinWestbrook I love everything Lisa See has written. Need to read this one. 2y
Eggs @KarinWestbrook Hope you enjoy! 2y
Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks On my shelf!! 2y
54 likes1 stack add5 comments
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Areader2
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Pickpick

This story was about the friendship of Mi-ja and young-sook they were haenyeo divers on the South Korean Island of JeJu. So interesting to learn about the culture of these woman how they lived and made a living , how strong they were and the terrible atrocities that they lived through.
#awesomeapril

23 likes2 stack adds
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peaknit
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Reading fiction about the women divers of Jeju Island is leading me down a rabbit hole...who knew Jeju was the Hawaii of Korea?

Bookishgal71 I‘ve been there. It‘s beautiful and I‘ve actually seen the divers working. Very cool. 2y
peaknit @Bookishgal71 Thank you! how interesting! I‘m very curious about this. 2y
Kangaj1 I've been there too! I need to read this! 2y
25 likes2 stack adds3 comments
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Texreader
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MySharonaK Thank you 😍😘 2y
robinb Thanks for the tag @texreader ! Since Thursday is almost over (sorry!), I'll answer here.

1. Tagged book

2. Mostly indoors

3. Just #bookspinbingo !

2y
Texreader @robinb Cool! Thanks for playing! 2y
See All 9 Comments
Texreader @MySharonaK You‘re welcome! 2y
Librarybelle 😁 2y
MoonWitch94 Thanks for playing 💐📚🐣😊 2y
MoonWitch94 @Texreader so I started this book earlier this year but found it so heavy I had to take a break. Does it end well? 2y
Texreader @MoonWitch94 Yes, it has a very poignant ending. 2y
MoonWitch94 @Texreader oh good to know! Thanks 😊 2y
51 likes9 comments
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CBee
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Sneaky sneaky, @Alwaysbeenaloverofbooks 😂 I totally wasn‘t expecting this, so what a lovely surprise! Have been wanting to read this forever and LOVE the magnet of course 🐾 🐾🐾♥️♥️ Thank you, Misty!

AmyG I hear this is a good book! What a lovely surprise. 💕 2y
ShelleyBooksie Awesome bookmark 2y
Soubhiville I loved this book. ❤️ 2y
See All 7 Comments
CBee @Soubhiville I‘ve heard only good things ♥️♥️ 2y
ZoeJane620 Such a good book!! 2y
LatrelWhite A great book read everything by Lisa See she‘s a wonderful storyteller!💕 2y
CBee @LatrelWhite the only other book I‘ve read of hers is Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and I really loved it! 2y
71 likes1 stack add7 comments
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Gogobooks
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Pickpick

My 2nd Lisa See this year. Like her blend of history and narrative. This takes place in 20th century on jeju, an island of south Korea, occupied by the Japanese when story opens. Cold water adventure/hardship is bracing. #atlasreads #vicariousadventure #sealife #wetfields #matriarchy #lisaseefangirl

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Texreader
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Pickpick

The Korean “sea women” endure frigid waters to collect sea animals to sell & survive, for they are the breadwinners & heads of family on the island of Jeju, #Korea. Men care for the children. I loved this matrifocal book about fiercely strong women thru the terrorizing Japanese & American occupations (read it & you‘ll understand) to today. Brutal, absolutely brutal—so beware. I learned so much history in a compelling & heartbreaking ⬇️

Texreader story about female friendship and forgiveness under the harshest of circumstances. This edition has an interview with Lisa See and I don‘t doubt her knowledge of the topic: her research was comprehensive. Beautifully written. Five stars in a heartbeat. #readingasia2021 2y
Librarybelle On my to read list! 2y
89 likes1 stack add2 comments
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Texreader
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Finished! I‘ll write a review when I‘m over the side effects of the 1st COVID vaccine shot today (headache, nausea, very sore arm). But in the meantime I just want to say what an amazing book this is. 5 stars and easily the best book I‘ve read this year. So many things to love about this book. This story about a real-life culture where women are the heads of family & men stay at home to take care of the kids is FASCINATING! #Korea #readingasia2021

BarbaraBB The book sounds great. Five stars! You don‘t often give them, do you? I envy you for your vaccination and wish you a speedy recovery! 2y
Librarybelle Yay for a five star read! And speedy recovery! 2y
Crazeedi Feel better soon Karen!!💗 2y
See All 7 Comments
Addison_Reads I hope you feel better soon. 💚 I went in unsure about this book but I ended up loving it. It's such an immersive story. 2y
Texreader @BarbaraBB You‘re right, I‘m pretty stingy with my five stars. This book was so good. 2y
Tamra Wishing you quick recovery and no symptom second dose! 2y
valeriegeary Hurray for vaccines! ❤️ 2y
79 likes1 stack add7 comments
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Texreader
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“Parents exist in children. Your mother will always exist in you. She will give you strength wherever you go.”

wanderinglynn So true. 💜 2y
Crazeedi 💗💗💗💗 and I needed her this weekend 2y
56 likes2 comments
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Texreader
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When books collide. “Around 700 years ago, the Mongols invaded Jeju.“ I‘m reading about the Mongols spreading all the way to Korea in The Secret History of the Mongol Queens. #readingasia2021 @Librarybelle @BarbaraBB

Librarybelle I love when that happens! 2y
Crazeedi Very cool! 2y
46 likes2 comments
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Texreader
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I‘ve decided on this one as my next IRL book. Started today and it‘s addictive. #Korea #readingasia2021 @Librarybelle @BarbaraBB

Librarybelle This is on my to read list! 2y
GingerAntics Is this nonfiction or fiction? 2y
Texreader @Librarybelle It has hooked me from the beginning. Happy reading! 2y
See All 8 Comments
Texreader @GingerAntics Historical fiction 2y
GingerAntics @Texreader I think I‘m going to reserve judgement until you‘ve finished. If you like it, I‘ll give it a go. 2y
BarbaraBB That sounds very good. North or South Korea? 2y
Texreader @BarbaraBB I don‘t know yet and I‘m not googling it so I will find out from the book. It is starting with the Japanese occupation in 1938. 2y
BarbaraBB You‘re right not to Google! 2y
77 likes8 comments
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AmyK1
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Pickpick

There were times when I really didn‘t like this book. It all seemed too much. There was a lot of information about Korea‘s past and the tragic results of its different conflicts. I didn‘t know any of it and it was good to learn it but it was a lot. I loved the parts about the sea women and the friendship between Mi-ja and Young-sook.

38 likes1 stack add
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Texreader
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Mccall0113
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Does this one get better? #audiowalking. #shutdownreadathon

Twainy I thought it was well written but it‘s not really my genre ... it‘s steady throughout so if you don‘t like it at the beginning you probably won‘t like it at the end? 2y
Soubhiville I absolutely loved this, but as @Twainy said I don‘t think the pacing or style of writing changes throughout. 2y
Mccall0113 @Twainy and @Soubhiville thanks for the feedback. Steady is a good word to describe. I think I will finish, but may put it aside for a bit! 2y
57 likes1 stack add3 comments
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flybluejay
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Pickpick

I knew nothing about the history of South Korea, or how difficult it was before, during, and after Japanese occupation. As a Filipina-American, many elements of this novel spoke to my soul. See researched this book thoroughly and really immersed me in the broken friendship between the female protagonist and her best friend.