- Audible Audiobook
- Listening Length: 10 hours and 34 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books
- Audible.com Release Date: November 6, 2018
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English, English
- ASIN: B07JJHKMGX
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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The Kinship of Secrets Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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Thank you, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and NetGalley for an advance readers copy!
"These writings expanded Inja's view of the world, even of her own national history in the way that only books can - by seeing through the eyes of the people who lived through those times, and others from foreign lands whose history and culture marked men so differently."
1. The narrative is expressed in every other chapter from the perspective of one of two Korean sisters—one who stays in Korea with relatives until high school and one who goes to the U.S. with their parents as a young child.
2. The plot is revealed through letters, lists, diary entries, and often through stories of the same event told by various characters. Surprises punctuate the plot throughout.
3. The author clearly delights in the complexity of words and language, both of which are subjects treated in the novel. Kim writes with a deft touch a gentle sense of humor, and reveals tragedy without over-dramatizing, letting the horror of a situation speak for itself—or allowing the effect on the characters to define the impact.
4. Kim’s imagery is fresh. “Grandmother hung on to a rope with one hand, the other covering the fear she held in her mouth.” “…too shy even to talk to herself out loud.” “…it took another small forever for workers to roll the stairway up to the plane.” “…the lamplight struck the panes of her cheeks like moonlit wax.” She uses the six—yes, six—senses in unusual ways.
5. Although the book is fiction based on fact, taking place between the Korean War and 1973, historical events never overpower the story.
6. The complex, layered meanings of home, family, nationality, identity, alienation, and love are woven throughout the book, as are the role of stories and storytelling, secrets and sharing or withholding them as acts of love and connection.
7. The book can be enjoyed by both teens and young adults, and would make for engaging family discussions.
What I didn’t like about it:
Nothing—it was an enjoyable read in the tradition of Anne Tyler’s Digging to America and Jamie Ford’s On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.
Told through alternating perspectives of the sisters, the story takes the family from 1950 to 1973, thus allowing the reader to observe the growth of Miran and Inja, the impact of the separation on the sisters, and the hardships experienced by the family in South Korea. We also read of the efforts of the Korean community in the United States to ease the burdens of their loved ones in South Korea. While most of the story focuses on the sisters, Ms. Kim also writes of the mother’s efforts to acclimate to her new home and the guilt she feels over leaving a daughter behind. In the Author’s Note I learned that this story was inspired by the author’s life.
The contrast between Inya’s and Miran’s lives was heart-breaking. One sister had so much, the other struggled. One knew immense love, the other lacked emotional support. Subtle differences between belonging and not belonging – having a mother but not having a mother, having a daughter but not having a daughter, being Korean yet not being Korean. My favorite “take-away” from Ms. Kim’s book is the phrase “the charity of secrets”. What a beautiful phrase!
I felt the pace was appropriate for a story that covers this range of years taking the sisters from their toddler years to their mid-20’s. It was interesting observing the development of their personalities, each reflecting a blend of their culture and their environment. Also as the sisters mature, family secrets are revealed. I loved reading about the beauty of the Korean culture and its emphasis on family. I also learned a bit about the Korean War and now understand why it is called “The Forgotten War”.
I enjoyed Ms. Kim’s writing so much I just ordered her previous book “The Calligrapher's Daughter”. She wrote of the difficulty of everyday life during the time of war, family ties, humor in the darkest of times, and the love between sisters.