Before she met Il-sun in an orphanage, Gi was a hollow husk of a girl, broken from growing up in one of North Korea's forced-labour camps. A mathematical genius, she has learned to cope with pain by retreating into a realm of numbers and calculations, an escape from both the past and present. Gi becomes enamored by the brash and radiant Il-sun, a friend she describes as "all woman and springtime." But Il-sun's pursuit of a better live imperils both girls when her suitor spirits them across the Demilitarized Zone and sells them as sex workers, first in South Korea and then in the United States.
This spellbinding debut, reminiscent of Memoirs of a Geisha, depicts, with chilling accuracy, life behind North Korea's iron curtain. But for Gi and Il-sun, forced into the underworld of human trafficking, their captivity outside North Korea is far crueler than the tight control of their "Dear Leader." Tenderhearted Gi, just on the verge of womanhood, is consigned to a fate that threatens not only her body but her mind. How she and Il-sun endure, how they find a path to healing, is what drives this absorbing and exquisite novel to its perfectly imagined conclusion.
With 20 out of 21 reviewers rating it 4 or 5 stars, Brandon W. Jones's All Woman and Springtime is a top pick among BookBrowse readers! Here's what they have to say:
This well-paced debut novel following two girls lured into human trafficking will chill you to the bone (Beverly J); the characters are fully developed and sympathetic (Rosemary C). While the passages detailing the horrors of human trafficking are graphic at times, the author treats each passage and the characters with respect. He does not sensationalize the issue but rather helps the reader see it from the characters' perspectives. Though the book is heartbreaking, I became completely engrossed in the story and could not put it down. It is a truly unique book and beautifully written (Kristin P). I will remember this novel long after it's been put back on the shelf (Rachel D). Brandon Jones has written a beautiful, chilling, important novel (Marion T). (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).
[U]ndermined by clichés, stereotypes, plot devices and sentimentality more appropriate within a romance or even young adult novel... A novel for those who like lessons in international culture spiced with lines about 'a dapper, flashy, dangerous bad boy whose smile had the effect of sliding her panties off her legs'.
Jones's well-paced story gives a peek into a disturbing, shadowy world, where women are sold and traded, but the author never effectively renders the psyche of his female characters; they lack dimension, and their pain and privation never feels as real to the reader as it does to them.
Impossible to put down, this work is important reading for anyone who cares about the power of literature to engage the world and speak its often frightening truths.
One of the most absorbing, chilling, beautifully written, and important novels I've read in many years.
Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow All Woman and Springtime is a lovely novel brimming with heartache and hope in equal measure. Jones has a gift for empathy as well as a keen sense of justice. This book will open your eyes, break your heart, and then mend it again.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Becky H ALL WOMAN AND SPRINGTIME A mesmerizing book that many will find hard to read. Gi, the main character, changes from a brutalized, terrified 10 year old to a near catatonic teen to a woman of untapped strength in this tale of a North Korean girl condemned and then rescued... Read More
Rated of 5
by Louise J Don't Miss This One!! This was a fascinating, fast-paced story without a minute to put the book down! Being caught up in the lives of Jasmine, Gi, II-sun and Cho was undeniably real. I felt like I was being tugged along with these four women as they struggled through... Read More
Rated of 5
by Theresa R. (Sierra Madre, CA) Good book This book was well written and very easy to get through. I liked the way the author brought each character to life and you really get to know each one - liking some and despising others. I liked the story as a whole - bringing to light the subject... Read More
Rated of 5
by Beverly J. (Huntersville, NC) Survival of the Fittest This well-paced debut novel following two girls lured into human trafficking will chill you to the bones. The effective use of the landscape makes it another character/narrator of the story, and thus understanding one place helps us to understand... Read More
Rated of 5
by Marion T. (Palatine, IL) All Woman and Springtime Though difficult to read this is a compelling story on a very important subject-human trafficking and sexual slavery. It is for the mature audience since the contents are graphic, but realistic. That being said, Brandon Jones has written a... Read More
Rated of 5
by Lynn R. (Dixon, IL) Couldn't Put It Down Through the pages of this book I was able to experience the hidden life of North Korea and the complexity of sex trafficking throughout the world. I found the story disturbing but the character development fascinating and I couldn't put it down.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), "Human trafficking is a crime against humanity. It involves an act of recruiting, transporting, transfering, harbouring or receiving a person through a use of force, coercion or other means, for the purpose of exploiting them. Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of traffickers, in their own countries and abroad. Every country in the world is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims."
Mark Lagon of the US State Department reports that North Korea is classified as a Tier Three country, which means that in the eyes of the UN, it is seen as not making any substantial effort to end the practice of human trafficking. The VOA News explains that:
Conditions inside North Korea are dire. They include a severe food shortage, a lack of basic freedoms and a system of political repression that includes a network of government-operated prison camps. The approximately two-hundred thousand prisoners...
To be a moral witness is perhaps the highest calling of journalism, and in this unforgettable, highly readable account of contemporary slavery, author Benjamin Skinner travels around the globe to personally tell stories that need to be told -- and heard.
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...