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Read advance reader review of The Stone Home by Crystal Hana Kim

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The Stone Home

A Novel

by Crystal Hana Kim

The Stone Home by Crystal Hana Kim X
The Stone Home by Crystal Hana Kim
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  • Published Apr 2024
    352 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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There are currently 27 member reviews
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  • Linda N. (Dallas, TX)
    The Stone Home: A Novel - Powerful, authentic, and emotionally difficult to read tale
    The Stone Home is a riveting and difficult read made even more devastating knowing it is based on true events in recent South Korean history. While not a gentle read, I was drawn to the power of relationships and the basic human need to survive in the most abusive of cruel situations. While my book group most likely would not wish to read the novel, I am glad I did.
  • Carol R. (North Mankato, MN)
    I found this book shocking and horrifying, mostly because this happened in 1980's S. Korea. It is yet another instance of institutionalized human cruelty brought to light. Kim created a fictionalized account of government-established reformatories that were created to keep homeless and indigent people off the streets. These people were taken against their will and placed in institutions, in this case, "The Stone Home."

    The "inmates" were mostly treated brutally, often by others like themselves who had been imprisoned for a longer term and promoted to "Keepers." Inmates were required to work in assembly lines with impossible deadlines and production quantities

    Kim writes the story through the lives of a mother-daughter and a pair of brothers. A young Korean girl strives to learn the truth through Eunju years later.

    This book has stuck with me after reading. It is incredible how certain people find the will and strength to survive in the face of long-term brutality, watching those who have the responsibility for oversight fail to protect them time and again.

    The Korean words used throughout the book made it difficult to follow at times, and to completely understand the story. I highly recommend for books clubs, as there are endless topics for discussion. I think that many readers would find it difficult to read due to the cruelty described.
  • Susan L. (Alexandria, VA)
    Sad Historical Story
    The Stone Home wrenches the heart all the more for the truth behind the story. Eunju and Sangchul (and all the other characters) represent so many women and children who were torn from the streets of Korean and interned in homes that were little more than prisons and death camps. It was a heartbreaking read that flowed effortlessly, dragging the reader along for every insult and injury. Crystal Hana Kim captured the range of emotions for each character in a stunning way.
  • Brenda S. (Sebring, FL)
    Inspiring Author
    This book is easy to read with a story that will stay with the reader for a long time. This is a story that is not well known; the fact that it is fiction does not take away from the truths noted. In all politics is pain and it would appear every country has a mean streak with no feelings how their policies affect others. The story is unimaginable with fear, suffering, and desire to just live a life as before.

    Crystal Hana Kim has given us a book that can be passed on to all our bookclub members. My thanks for the history lesson through the eyes of Sangchul and Eunju.
  • Lucy S. (Ann Arbor, MI)
    Very powerful and important
    The subject matter in this book was brutal but the writing was so beautiful, the prose so insightful that the story also held tenderness and deep explorations of friendship, family, and love. The history that Crystal Hana Kim is sharing is one that needs to be known. Her use of alternating timelines and viewpoints allows for a deeper understanding of the complexities of the situation and how survival can force cruel behavior from good people.
  • Maryanne H. (Delmar, NY)
    Bitter Pill
    The Stone Home, Crystal Hana Kim's latest novel, is a hard book to read. It is a fictionalized story based on atrocities recently come to light. In the 1980s, the government of South Korea sanctioned the establishment of reformatories, basically incarceration and forced labor for people snatched off the streets and considered undesirable.

    At first, I found the book difficult, maybe because of its structure (a one year period in the 80s alternating with an extended meetup thirty years later), or maybe because of the larger cast of characters and the unfamiliar social organization of the reformatory. Not everything is spelled out, although the intense relationship between a mother-daughter duo and a pair of brothers dominates the intertwining narrative.

    As I got into the story, I found the graphic depiction of the violence and downright cruelty difficult to read. Many acts of goodness and solidarity propelled the story forward and provided the characters respite from the grueling trauma of their incarceration but the overall takeaway, rendered in beautiful and precise language, was, for me, despair about what we humans can feel in our hearts and perpetrate on each other. Maybe that is good subject matter for our times.

    For the right book club, The Stone Home would be perfect. Even its title could be unpacked in discussion.
  • Catharine L. (Petoskey, MI)
    A Difficult Read
    The Stone Home is based on true events. In the 70's and 80's, South Korea established an internment camp called The Brothers Home. Only 10 were homeless and many were children, dissidents, and people grabbed off the streets. 516 people died there over 20 years, and torture was common.
    The story is told using alternating time lines and from the perspectives of a camp survivor, Eunju, and a young American Korean girl, Narae.
    It is a story of a mother and daughter's love, and two brothers whose bond is put to an impossible test. There is no happiness here - it is cruelty, hopeless, and pain. It is well written, but the book is so depressing which is why I did not rate it higher.

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