Summary and book reviews of All Woman and Springtime by Brandon Jones

All Woman and Springtime

A Novel

By Brandon W. Jones

All Woman and Springtime
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  • Hardcover: May 2012,
    384 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2013,
    400 pages.

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Book Summary

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.

Excerpt
All Woman and Springtime

Finally, a whistle blew and the foreman announced, as if it were against his better judgment, that lunch was being served in the cafeteria. Gyong-ho and Il-sun stood up and, in rigid military fashion, filed out the factory door. Gyong-ho wondered if there really would be lunch, or just the sawdust gruel that was served most days.

The women splintered into small groups as they exited the workroom, and the air filled with chatter. It seemed an odd contrast between the martial atmosphere of the workroom and the casual muddle of the lunchroom, as if they were ants that morphed into women and then back into ants again. Occasional laughter could be heard, and a Party anthem played in the background on tinny speakers. Gyong-ho made a break for the latrine. When she returned, she and Il-sun queued up in the cafeteria, waiting for the day's ration, which turned out to be a small scoop of rice and a slice of boiled cabbage. On the wall behind the service counter ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

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).

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Media Reviews
Kirkus Reviews

[U]ndermined by clich├ęs, 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'.

Publishers Weekly

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.

Library Journal

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.

Author Blurb Alice Walker
One of the most absorbing, chilling, beautifully written, and important novels I've read in many years.

Author Blurb 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.

Reader Reviews
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 from...   Read More

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

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

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

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Human Trafficking in North Korea

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 ...

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