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Everything Belongs to Us: A Novel par Yoojin…
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Everything Belongs to Us: A Novel (édition 2017)

par Yoojin Grace Wuertz (Auteur)

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8915232,283 (3.07)4
"This debut novel takes place at the elite Seoul National University in 1970s South Korea during the final years of a repressive regime. The novel follows the fates of two women--Jisun, the daughter of a powerful tycoon, who eschews her privilege to become an underground labor activist in Seoul; and Namin, her best friend from childhood, a brilliant, tireless girl who has grown up with nothing, and whose singular goal is to launch herself and her family out of poverty. Drawn to both of these women is Sunam, a seeming social-climber who is at heart a lost boy struggling to find his place in a cutthroat world. And at the edges of their friendship is Junho, whose ambitions have taken him to new heights in the university's most prestigious social club, called "the circle," and yet who guards a dangerous secret that is tied to his status. Wuertz explores the relationships that bind these students to each other, as well as the private anxieties and desires that drive them to succeed" --… (plus d'informations)
Membre:miriam2k
Titre:Everything Belongs to Us: A Novel
Auteurs:Yoojin Grace Wuertz (Auteur)
Info:Random House (2017), Edition: First Edition, 368 pages
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Mots-clés:fiction

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Everything Belongs to Us par Yoojin Grace Wuertz

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Everything Belongs to us is a novel about two girls, friends, Sujin who is very wealthy and hates being wealthy and Namin, very poor and hates being poor...their families, their dreams, their boyfriend, Sunam - shared for a while. I lived in Korea for 20 years, 1965-1985, working with many college -aged students so was very interested in this story and how it told. I thought it would be a little different from my other Korean reads, though like every Korean movie and novel I've ever seen or read, it is soap opera-ish in the problems faced and the sorrows experienced. Lots of family dynamics. It's a long book, and I was on the brink of giving up on it when the plot became intensely interesting and held me to the end. When things were at their very worst, the story ended and was followed by an epilogue that I greatly appreciated. The book is worth the investment of time. I recognized so much of the Korean cultural and social milieu of the 70's and 80's and that made it especially engaging. It was something of an inside look at things I've observed as an outsider. I found the writing quite good and was struck time and again by her descriptions of behavior and scenes that I thought were quite apt and beautiful. I think I'll remember this book and its three main characters for a long time. ( )
  MarthaHuntley | Jun 24, 2019 |
The setting and characters are stellar, the writing and storyline not so much. And I really wish Wuertz had not included the epilogue, which I think weakens the book. Still, recommended if you are as obsessed with Korea as I am. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
Originally posted on Tales to Tide You Over

I’ve reviewed books that have uncommon narrative styles before, but this is the first time I found myself lost in cultural differences, not just between my culture and theirs but within their culture and the different social strata. No, this is not a criticism. It was fascinating to catch myself having expectations because of the seemingly traditional narrative approach only to have them turned upside down.

Basically, Everything Belongs to Us is a small story, or rather a collection of small stories, that became a deep dive into the culture of South Korea starting around 1978, long enough for a new generation to grow up after the Korean War. This is critical because of the consequences and impact the war left behind in both the physical world and the social structures while the main characters have neither experienced the time before nor the war itself.

The economic disparity, the focus on education and children as the guardians of the future, and the political rhetoric is presented in a matter-of-fact manner that begs you to reflect on what you’re seeing. This is not a simple story despite being shown through often uncritical eyes because it reveals the tradeoffs and consequences both within families and the larger picture. It shows the path to radicalization, but also the conflict and social strata within the radical movements and society as a whole.

It’s not a happy story, though it has its moments, and the cultural differences are never clearer than when a ghost appears but does not transform the book into a paranormal fantasy. It’s another fact of life in their culture. No one questions this as out of the ordinary.

The novel offers a fascinating look at the various reactions to wealth, poverty, honor, and survival through the eyes of young people struggling for control over their own existence beyond the demands of tradition and parents. At the same time, the main characters are trying to meet those expectations, creating the paradoxical conflict in which, to some degree, they are both the rescuer and the jailer of their futures. This is true for everyone except Jisun who is a perpetual rebel and experimenter. Even this is a commentary on social status and wealth as her very willingness sets her apart from those she most wants to connect with. She is unable to see how her giving up advantages does not make her the same as those who never had them in the first place.

While not a single character made it through the book without doing something or making a choice that repelled me, none of the main figures lost my interest, not even Sunam who tried hard to do so from the very start. There’s a large cast with many main characters and time jumps into the past that are subtle and easy to miss, but though I was disoriented at times and had trouble figuring out the who and when for a little bit, I was never lost.

The novel offers a glimpse into their world followed up with a summary and where these people are in modern times, having survived complicated childhoods. It shows the culture with both strengths and shadows, the impact of interaction with foreigners near and far, and the unwieldy balance between respect for a benefactor and spite because the aid has been necessary. It also shows the changes in the meaning of patriotism and honor between generations. While focusing on these young characters, it manages to paint a picture that spans much farther than I had imagined, from bridges mined with explosives in case North Korea invades to families putting all their hopes and dreams into the one child able to compete academically, which has far reaching consequences because they never look to see what their focus has created.

It’s not an easy read, though in some ways it’s all too easy, but I think the book does a good job of bringing another reality into my view, many layered, and both familiar and alien all at once. It was worth the time spent within its pages.

P.S. I received this title from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review. ( )
  MarFisk | Jun 13, 2017 |
The three young people in this book come of age in 1970's Korea. Each comes from families that represent a different level of the economic ladder. They are also quite different in personalities and connect to each other through mutual need and sometimes questionable loyalties. Although I know little about Korean life and politics, I'm pretty sure that the author does. She writes convincingly about the challenges of growing up in post-war Korea and creates real characters with flaws and weaknesses that balance their strengths.
Life's challenges seem to be a focal point in this book. Each of the main characters is successful in the end, but they pay a price. While the setting is Korea, the struggles and difficulties could occur to young people anywhere. The hopes and dreams of youth can make it seem that everything belongs to them.
Growing up has a way of changing that and turning those dreams inside out. Those who adapt are better suited to future happiness, but everyone has to deal with it in their own way. These characters don't always behave or respond in the way that I as a reader would expect, but I could related to their inadequacies and disappointments.
I enjoyed "Everything Belongs to Us" and recommend it to readers who enjoy a book that portrays real life and challenges them to see things from different angles. I learned a bit about Korea and it's history, yet also enjoyed a story that could have taken place in any setting. The ending isn't neat and tidy, but then again, neither is life. Ultimately everything doesn't really belong to us, but we survive in spite of it.
I thank NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this title. ( )
  c.archer | Apr 29, 2017 |
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"This debut novel takes place at the elite Seoul National University in 1970s South Korea during the final years of a repressive regime. The novel follows the fates of two women--Jisun, the daughter of a powerful tycoon, who eschews her privilege to become an underground labor activist in Seoul; and Namin, her best friend from childhood, a brilliant, tireless girl who has grown up with nothing, and whose singular goal is to launch herself and her family out of poverty. Drawn to both of these women is Sunam, a seeming social-climber who is at heart a lost boy struggling to find his place in a cutthroat world. And at the edges of their friendship is Junho, whose ambitions have taken him to new heights in the university's most prestigious social club, called "the circle," and yet who guards a dangerous secret that is tied to his status. Wuertz explores the relationships that bind these students to each other, as well as the private anxieties and desires that drive them to succeed" --

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