08 April 2011

Please Look After Mom; Kyung-Sook Shin

Please Look After MomPlease Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I can understand why this book has been such an international best seller - the emotional impact of the story keeps you reading and will stay with you after. Very possibly some of this effect is due to the use of the second person present tense (with one exception, which may or may not be due to a translation issue). Since "you" are the narrator, there's naturally a deeper response to the story.

This story is told by several different people within the family, responding to the news that Mom has disappeared. She's been not well for a while (we later learn that she's had incapacitating headaches, not to mention breast cancer that was not treated until too late) and has been a little forgetful. She's also believed to be not capable to do certain things, like navigate Seoul. When she and Father come for a visit, they get separated at the subway station - the last time anyone in the family sees her.

The mixture of "oh no! she's lost and how can we find her" and memories of their relationships with her adds to the power of this story. We hear from her husband, daughters and sons, and towards the end we hear from Mom herself (I think, it was a little unclear). The question of what happened to her is not answered, which is a very nice touch.

ARC provided by author.

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  1. Sounds like a sad story...

  2. When I started this book I wasn't sure if it was something that would hold my interest. However, I continued reading and soon became enthralled with the story of this very special woman. Too often I finish a book and immediately forget plot lines and characters. This does not hold true for Please Look After Mother. I am still haunted by the beauty of the writing and the strength of it's main character. Her love of family is true and deep and I grew to love this cantankerous, determined lady. The translation may make a few sentences awkward, but don't let that put you off.