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.
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 ...
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).
Full Review (1006 words).
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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