Thank you to netgalley and Amulet Books for sending me a copy of this book.
This was a book. An incredible book. And I think you all need to read this and remember that this is the world we live in, this is happening right now in North Korea. This book is a memoir of a guy who lived through all this stuff whilst I was growing up. It’s scary to think of this happening but then remembering that it’s happening in your life time makes it so much worse. It made me just so genuinely sad. Whilst this obviously has a good ending as Sungju is alive to tell his story, so many people don’t get that good ending, so many kids die fending for themselves in North Korea.
It’s about Sungju’s life as a teenager trying to survive in North Korea after his father is sacked and they have to move to the incredibly poor countryside after being used to the well off city life. But honestly it’s just so much more than that.
I thought I knew a lot about North Korea going into this as I have a keen interest in South Korean culture and you can’t learn about South Korea without learning about North Korea but man alive I did not know the half of it. I had no idea about people reselling houses after parents went missing, I had no idea that kids had to literally form violent gangs just to stay alive.
Every single part of this memoir is so richly described, I could picture every event that takes place and every environment that Sungju was in.
After I finished this book I just sat there for a long period of time just shocked. I can’t describe to you how I felt reading this, there was a hole in my heart. I felt sick and distraught reading this but I could not put it down because it was written so well and had me on tenterhooks NEEDING to know what happened. I still just feel so affected by it that I don’t even really know what to write in this review because I don’t think a review can do it justice, so please just read it.
If you would like to read further into people’s experiences of North Korea there is a book called In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park. I haven’t read it yet but I’ve heard nothing but good things about it and is even more recent.