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Please Look After Mom (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – April 3, 2012
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Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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Guest Reviewer: Jamie Ford
Some books change us. They change the way we look at ourselves, the way we interact with those closest to our hearts--the way we’ve loved those people, or the way we’ve missed them or honored them or taken them hopelessly for granted. This is one of those books. This is a book that alters the way we remember.
I’m an author, so this is where my own writerly fail-safes kick-in, warning of hype and hyperbole...but even in reflection...I’m not speaking falsely.
Please Look After Mom isn’t merely a story of familial loss and longing, of the many veils of shame and surrender beneath one roof. This tale is a door, and once you cross its threshold, you’ll never be able to go back to that comfortable place you came from. Your perceptions will be transformed. Permanently.
When Park So-nyo, an elderly mother from a rural town visiting her children on her birthday, vanishes over the event horizon of a crowded Seoul train station, four narratives unfold--four dimensions of loss, anger, blame, and sacrifice--four angles of persistence. (Perhaps it’s no mere coincidence that the number four in Korean is a homonym for “death.”)
But as the four pillars of one family are shaken by this mysterious disappearance, we are also enriched as we learn about the wealth of emotional currency that has been exchanged over one lifetime--tender payments, and the debts owed, from children to parent, from husband to wife, from an aged mother to...herself.
This book is four stories, four echoes, four promises, and four lamentations--that make a whole.
This is your gentle warning, dear reader.
And an invitation, to the kind of book I wish I could read again for the first time.--This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Rather than being given a lot of intimate details about each of these people, the author brings us into the drama of the mother disappearing at the station, and although we come to know a little more about the mother, there are really more questions than answers about the other family members. I normally like stories with a lot of character development, but somehow, this really worked and I was quickly drawn in, perhaps in the way of an accident or other tragedy where you don't want to look, but somehow need to know how and why it happened and how the people involved are affected. In many cases Kyung-Sook Shin gives only a few details and it is up to the reader to fill in the blanks. It gives a glimpse into the culture of present day South Korea both in a large city and in a rural area and we can see how much things have changed in only a single generation. It only took a few pages to become very involved.
This story is about complex emotions and interactions between family members. It was striking how differently each member of the family handled the disappearance.Read more ›
A wife and husband have journeyed from their family farm to the city to visit their grown children. He rushes onto a subway train, expecting her to follow. He travels several stops before he even realizes she's not there.
The family has to deal with the trauma of having their mother/wife/sister-in-law missing. She has various health problems that add to their concerns, and time passes with few leads. They all recall past events that make them realize how important she was to them and how they took her devotion and hard work for granted. They also begin to comprehend how little they truly knew about her feelings, hopes and dreams - - the person behind labels like "mother" or "wife."
The book is alternately heartbreakingly sad and uplifting. It will make you want to hug every person you care about and tell them how much you love them. Better yet, I hope it will make you ask them questions about who they truly are, what their childhood was like, what they wanted in life. All those things you can't ask after they are gone.
It was also fascinating to read about Korean culture and history as it related to the family. However, in the long run, this book is a universal story of human life, equally relevant to modern America.
I highly, highly recommend this beautiful book to everyone. In fact, it should be required reading because you will never see your family, particularly your mother, the same way again.
I don't remember ever feeling so fortunate to get my hands on an Advance Reader's Copy, than I did after finishing this English translated Korean best seller, Please Look After Mom. This is definitely one of my favorite Vine books, and it will certainly have a place among my favorites in my personal library.
The novel revolves around an elderly Korean woman, Park So-nyo, who goes missing after losing contact with her husband at the Seoul subway station. As her family feverishly searches for her, the reader gets a taste of what type of person Park So-nyo was, and a feel for the relationships she shared with her loved-ones. The whole book is told in 4 chapters, by 4 different characters: 2 of the missing woman's children, her husband, and the missing woman herself.
I loved every minute that I was able to steal away and read Kyung-soak Shin's poetic prose, and I'd recommend this book to anyone who is a mother, who knows a mother, or who has a mother.
Two negatives with this book: the use of the word "You" for every character brings confusion as to who is speaking. Second: I enjoyed the book but could not get excited about reading it straight through. I procrastinated and took weeks to finish it. This is the reason I gave this book 3 stars. I would not discourage readers from reading it but be advised that is's a slow read.
S O'Brien, Illinois
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As I was reading it I got up a few time to clear my room, I love itPublished 6 days ago by Sara Wong
Interesting look at Korean culture & family dynamics, but it got a little too religious for me at the end. Very well writtenPublished 9 days ago by srf
This had to be one of the worst books I've ever read. I only completed it because we were reading it for book club. The author surcharge narrator. Read morePublished 15 days ago by Monica Santana
The initial chapters showed promise when it came to depth of the story and the creative story narration. Read morePublished 17 days ago by karthik
The beginning has so many names to learn
that is takes away from the story.
Setting is present day South Korea. An older woman is separated from her husband in the crowded Seoul subway station. Read morePublished 1 month ago by georgina
Really a fantastic novel. Very poignant. Hard to imagine someone reading this novel and not being moved by it as it carries you through multiple POVs bound to one central theme:... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Todd Sullivan
Please Look After Mom is a translated book from Korea. I wanted to like this book SOO MUCH, have tried to read it multiple times. Read morePublished 2 months ago by MissJoious