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The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See is an adult historical fiction novel set on the Korean island of Jeju, between the 1930s and present day.

On the island of Jeju, the Haenyeo, collectives of women divers and providers for their families, rule the roost while the men stay home and take care of the babies. This is the way it has always been and as girls, Mi-ja and Young-sook wanted nothing more than to become great haenyeo, have sons and daughters and provide for their own house.

Though brought up very different, Mi-ja daughter of a Japanese collaborator, and Young-sook, daughter of the leader of her collective, the two girls become closer than sisters. Through the many years of diving, trading secrets and friendship, their bond only grows stronger, that is, until outside forces attempt to pull them apart.

Japanese Colonialism, War, fights over territory, politics and extreme violence pull at the threads of sisterhood and an unbreakable bond is ripped in two.

This is the story of that bond, it's breaking and the all but impossible road to forgiveness.

This won't be a story for everyone. It is violent and the author doesn't shy away from that violence. It is also informative and interesting. The haenyeo lifestyle is especially interesting and especially fascinating for the time period, considering the majority of the worlds view on women and their place in the household.

The story may have had some pacing issues, it dragged in some parts and then seemed to jump in others. It was frustrating not to have more of Mi-ja's side of things until the end of the book. I can see how this was purposely done but it made it hard to sympathize with her the way we do with Young-sook.

Though heart wrenching, terrible and horrible in it's truthfulness, this wasn't a story for me. I liked it but I didn't love it and I found myself trying to get through it fast just to have it done. I may be in the minority here and I am sure many will love all the feels they will get reading it, but for me it gets a solid 3 stars.

That's all for now!


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