Read advance reader review of The Kinship of Secrets by Eugenia Kim, page 2 of 3

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The Kinship of Secrets

by Eugenia Kim

The Kinship of Secrets by Eugenia Kim X
The Kinship of Secrets by Eugenia Kim
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • First Published:
    Nov 2018, 304 pages

    Nov 2019, 304 pages


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There are currently 20 member reviews
for The Kinship of Secrets
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  • Karen L. (Wilton, IA)
    Couldn't put it down
    I read the book in two days. I had trouble putting it down because I wanted to know what was going to happen next. This book would appeal to many different groups: Korean-Americans, people who enjoy historical fiction, young people, older people who lived through the Korean war and book clubs. I enjoyed the book and it expanded my limited knowledge of the Korean war. I felt the book gained credibility from the author's note at the end of the book when she mentioned her family went through a similar situation. It was also good to read her Korean history. It helped me understand Korea and their history better.

    Some possible book club questions: Do you think family secrets add to a family's strength or make it weaker? Does it depend on the secret? Is keeping Miran's adoption secret really better for her? How do you think she will react if she ever finds out? Which sister had the better upbringing and childhood?
  • Lee M. (Huntington Woods, MI)
    What Comprises a Family
    Ms. Kim probes the depths of tradition, honor, respect, and love. Taking an incident that she knows personally she weaves a heart-rending story of a family separated by time, war and continents. Do they endure, will they reunite, and is honesty about the past the best policy? You'll love the answers, and this book.
  • Maggie R. (Canoga Park, CA)
    Checks a lot of boxes
    First, let me say that I was attracted to this book by a comment made by Mrs. Kim. A child raised in America assumes that another who comes from a "less advantaged" background must surely find everything better here. This idea is relevant to the current refugee situation where some assume that anyone would choose to live here, even if not in dire straits. Kinship gives the reader parallel stories of separated sisters beginning early in their lives. We understand that each finds both love and pain, regardless of the home and family members around them. What is familiar can become either a comfort or a challenge to the growing child.
    An excellent choice for a book club. Hopefully a spur to deeper thinking about the individuals we read about in the news - especially those too young to influence their own future.
  • Molly B. (Longmont, CO)
    Wow. Lots going on
    Ms Kim covers a lot of ground in The Kinship of Secrets. The recurring themes are family and secrets (the title was well chosen!) The background and story line are very interesting, especially for someone without much knowledge of South Korean history. The author helps that history come alive. She presents lots of different views on what makes a family. The secrets that are kept in this story are huge. I've always thought that secrets, like lies, restrict one's ability to make good decisions. And I still believe that, after reading Ms Kim's presentations of the importance of some lies to spare bad feelings. The pace of the book was great until the end. It was slow and in depth, and enjoyable for that. Starting with the trip to America, things started speedballing, and the last chapter was seemed too rushed, trying to condense everything into summary lessons and explanations, rather than continuing in the story format. Despite that, I liked the book and appreciate what Ms Kim presented about a culture not well known to me.
  • Beverly J. (Hoover, AL)
    The Bonds That Bind Us
    This captivating and poignant story opens at the start of the Korean War and thwarts the dreams of two sisters; one who lives in the United States with their parents and the other sister who was left behind in Korea. This deeply moving story is told in alternate chapters by the sisters as each describes their upbringing of separation necessitated by the political climate and economic difficulties. As a consummate storyteller, Kim, makes the story historically informative as we understand the heart and sacrifices made by the family.

    I so enjoyed Kim’s first book and I was just as enthralled with this well-crafted warm-hearted book. It gave me a new understanding of the strength and resilience of families affected by displacement.
  • Kathleene M. (Running Springs, CA)
    Family bonds are hard to break
    The title for this book is appropriate. Deep-rooted secrets kept for decades through family ties. Secrets kept from Grandmother to mother to daughters die hard. Sacrifices through generations to be admired for survival. Family bonds remain strong even through estrangement.
  • Katherine P. (Post Mills, VT)
    Parallel Lives of Two Sisters
    A page turner as two young girls grow from toddler to college graduates. One in Korea, the other in America--the cultures so different and yet periods of their lives--grade school, middle school --so similar in ways. Dealing with the personal adjustments to forming friendships, discovering boys, girlish competitions, differing relationships with parental figures, music, dancing, clothing styles. But the differences, too--multigenerational home in Korea, only child in America. Poverty in Korea, overabundance in America. The strength of tradition and culture in Korea, the loss of even language in America. The author alternates chapters --first in Korea, the next in the States.

    She uses not only political and world events to chart time, but also pop culture--Elvis, Almaden wine (do they still make that?), the mashed potato and the twist, Dick Clark's TV show.

    Although the differences between the two countries and the political situation in Korea are clearly expressed in the earlier chapters, it is not until Inja, at 15, is finally able to come to the States and reunite with parents she knows only through photographs and letters, that the reality of the situation becomes clear.

    Miran, the girl raised in the US doesn't even speak Korean, She has difficulty with her Oriental appearance but American upbringing that leaves her feeling somehow a person who doesn't know who she is, Inja, in the meantime, is overwhelmed by the luxuriousness into which she finds herself and by the grief she feels at leaving the only family and home she has ever known.

    How the two grow close and how they begin to understand themselves and their shared family history is the strongest part of the book and yet it could not have its impact without having their lives before detailed.
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