A haunting family tale against the backdrop of an oppressive regime.
I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the BROTHER’S KEEPER by Julie Lee Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my review and make sure to enter the giveaway!
WHAT’S THE BOOK ABOUT
Can two children escape North Korea on their own?
North Korea. December, 1950.
Twelve-year-old Sora and her family live under an iron set of rules: No travel without a permit. No criticism of the government. No absences from Communist meetings. Wear red. Hang pictures of the Great Leader. Don’t trust your neighbors. Don’t speak your mind. You are being watched.
But war is coming, war between North and South Korea, between the Soviets and the Americans. War causes chaos–and war is the perfect time to escape. The plan is simple: Sora and her family will walk hundreds of miles to the South Korean city of Busan from their tiny mountain village. They just need to avoid napalm, frostbite, border guards, and enemy soldiers.
But they can’t. And when an incendiary bombing changes everything, Sora and her little brother Young will have to get to Busan on their own. Can a twelve-year-old girl and her eight-year-old brother survive three hundred miles of warzone in winter?
Haunting, timely, and beautiful, this harrowing novel from a searing new talent offers readers a glimpse into a vanished time and a closed nation.
A Junior Library Guild Selection
WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK
Brother’s Keeper by Julie Lee charts a North Korean family’s harrowing escape from its country’s oppressive regime to the democracy of South Korea. Braving border guards, napalm, frostbite, air raids, bombings, and the bitterly cold Korean winter, can this family arrive unscathed at their destination? You will have to read the book to find out.
Brother’s Keeper is a tale of so many things. It is a tale of a family struggling to survive in bleak conditions yet so full of love for each other. It is equally a haunting portrait of how war rips apart families and turns men and women into a husk of their former selves.
Moreover, it is as much about freedom from the punishing regime of North Korea as it is about freedom from a patriarchal society. Sora is forced to grow up sooner than was necessary – first, because she is a girl and second, because of the war. Lee beautifully expresses Sora’s longing to be a child, to be free, to read and learn, and not be stuck at home caring for her brothers. Further, she brilliantly captures the bond between siblings and Sora’s devotion towards her younger brother, Youngsoo.
It was so effortless to slip into Sora’s world and watch her first being sad at being pulled off from school, then watch her perform her daily chores listlessly, followed by her escape to South Korea with her family braving extremely harsh conditions thanks to Lee’s evocative writing. This also resulted in a smoothly flowing story. Every time I started reading the book, I did not realize how fast time flew. Vivid descriptions of the North Korean countryside further bolster the strength of the book.
There is a scene (at the very end) when Sora discovers her map in Youngsoo’s pocket. To elaborate it will lead to spoilers. However, suffice it to say that Lee’s poignant writing moved me to tears.
I highly recommend Julie Lee’s Brother’s Keeper to lovers of middle-grade fiction as well as contemporary literary fiction. I will read Lee’s future works for sure. However, be warned, there are graphic descriptions of war, so, read this book if you are comfortable reading such scenes.
About the Book:
Title: BROTHER’S KEEPER || Author: Julie Lee || Pub. Date: July 21, 2020 || Publisher: Holiday House || Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook || Pages: 304 ||
Julie Lee graduated from Cornell University with a degree in history. After working in market research in Manhattan for over ten years, she decided to pursue writing full-time. Currently, Julie lives in Georgia with her husband and three children. When she is not spending time with her family, she is working on her next book while pursuing an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Brother’s Keeper is her debut novel.
3 winners will receive a finished copy of BROTHER’S KEEPER, US Only. Enter the giveaway here.
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Many thanks to the publisher for the digital copy of my book. This does not affect my opinion on the book.