The Year of Impossible Goodbyes

Many of the novels I’ve found about Korea are for young readers. But they are still very much worth your time. The Year of Impossible Goodbyes by Sook Nyul Choi is the beginning of a trilogy that details Sookan’s life through a difficult time in Korea’s history.

This first book in the series begins with Sookan as a 10-year-old in Japanese occupied Korea. Her family lives in the northern part of the Korean peninsula and runs a sock factory to support the Japanese army. She sees her friends and coworkers pushed into unspeakable duties, but liberation doesn’t bring the freedom they’d hoped for. As the Russian army takes over from the Japanese, Sookan and her brother will have to escape across the 38th parallel.

The novel is drawn partially from the author’s own experiences, and is listed as being for children ages 10 and up. This series was one of my favorites. Difficult to read at times, as most Korean historical novels are, the reader becomes caught up in the plight of Sookan and her family.


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