How We Disappeared Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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|Listening Length||11 hours and 48 minutes|
|Narrator||Ryun Yu, Angela Lin|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||May 23, 2019|
|Best Sellers Rank||
#204,166 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals)
#315 in World War II Historical Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#704 in Political Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#2,051 in World War II Historical Fiction (Books)
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Comfort Women, and their counterparts in Europe, were amongst the Biggest Atrocities of all. You can kill, but to do this is vicious and inhuman. The people involved, teenaged girls.
I took a stand in my teens, as I studied and listened. I will never visit Germany, nor Japan, nor Russia. I know what their soldiers did in the war in Europe, China and Holland. It’s my personal stand. I don’t preach, just state. I hold nothing against those born post 1945. It’s because of what I know, what I have heard first hand from those who saw. Funnily enough, the more I read, the more I studied over the next 40 years, my mind did not change.
What is appalling is that some of these ladies still live. Still suffer. Still try to live dignified lives.
We should all be grateful that we are able to read, not experience, this book.
This review is not meant to be offensive to anyone, but like any review a personal opinion. Take it that it was an excellent book that it could make a hardened Old Chook like me cry, often.
There are three points of view, that of the young Wang Di, that of old Wang Di, and that of Kevin, who may or may not be Wang Di’s grandson. Each one tells a story of unimaginable horror and the cost of survival.
You can’t like this book, but you can’t put it down either.
Perfect for fans of Moloka'i and other historical tales that highlight woman who persevere and flourish despite immense challenges.
Top international reviews
It follows seventeen year old Wang Di who is ripped from her family and forced into sex slavery to become what was crudely referred to as a comfort woman.
The book splits the narrative between life for Wang Di during her captivity and life for her sixty years later as an old woman who is dealing with the ghosts of both hers and her recently deceased husband’s past during the Japanese occupation of Singapore.
The book also introduces us to a young boy named Kevin whose grandmother revealed a secret that she had held since the occupation to him on her deathbed and his chapters focus on him researching her past and trying to right the wrong that she had committed.
I do enjoy historical fiction as it really helps to educate and inform about times past and brings history to life. I had never heard of the phrase “comfort women” before this book and reading about the sexual barbarity that these innocent women were subjected to during their captivity was deeply moving. It was also so deeply horrifying to see the shame that was then placed on these innocent rape victims by society as if they were somehow the criminals and at fault for being raped.
And I must say that Wang Di’s captivity and her friendships with the other enslaved women was written in a most sensitive and thought provoking fashion that made me feel heavily invested in Wang Di’s story and her survival against the odds. These women lived in the most horrific of environments which were laid bare for the reader to see. They suffered cruel beatings and violent rapes at the hands of the soldiers daily and were not given any freedom as they were locked into their rooms. They were barely able to communicate with each other in communal areas such as the washroom as they were constantly guarded. The women were malnourished surviving on less than the bare minimum, and were denied basic medical care. In fact if they got ill it was considered easier to murder them than cure them. The chapters focusing on Wang Di as an old woman were made all the more haunting because of the effectiveness of the writing of surrounding the story of her younger self.
However, I really failed to connect with the chapters that focused on Kevin’s part of the story. I found them to be lacking in emotional depth and frankly rather boring. And therefore to me this part of the story detracted from highlighting the events surrounding the slavery of the “comfort women”. Kevin just seemed to be used as a plot device rather than feel like a character with a living, breathing personality. He was just described as bookish, quiet, awkward etc without being truly rounded out into a character whose motivations I could empathise with.
Overall, this was a novel that was easy to read as the writing was incredibly accessible but yet something held me back from fully engaging with the book as a whole and therefore I rate it three stars.
*An e-copy of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*