Cover Image: Like Wind Against Rock

Like Wind Against Rock

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Member Reviews

*spoilers*

Engaging, heart-breaking story about that highlights the human experience and how we’re all just doing our best to find out way.

Alice is still reeling from her father’s death, yet her mother (her father’s wife) seems to have quickly moved on.  She’s loaded up all of his things in black trash bags and set them out on the curb for the garbage men.  As her mother won’t talk about her father’s death, Alice secretly digs through the discarded bags and finds her father’s journal.  There’s only one problem: She doesn’t read Korean, and therefore can’t decipher the diary.

Alice enlists the help of a business contact who reads Korean who read the journal and discovers secrets that strike at the core of both of their families.
*BIG SPOILER*:
I didn’t really care for how Alice thought her father was the one to be most pitied out of all the cast of characters, since he was not able to be with the woman he really loved.  There were many others in the story who were not loved in return, which is the greater tragedy in my opinion.  But in the end, it’s about acceptance and moving on.

A short but moving read, this one is recommended for book club aficionados and those who don’t mind a story that really pulls at, and pummels, the heart.

A big thank you to Nancy Kim, Lake Union Publishing, and NetGalley for providing an Advance Reader Copy in exchange for this review.

Get your copy of Like Wind Against Rock today at www.bookshop.org – the online bookstore that gives 75% of the book’s profits back to indie booksellers.  Find it at https://bookshop.org/lists/best-fiction-of-2021.

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I find this book hard to review, and indeed hard to score so I had to go for the middle ground.
I wasn't sure what to expect from this novel, so went into it fairly blind, but upon finishing I agree with other readers. 
It is a poignant read, and had echoes of family drama books by Susan Lewis for me. 
I didn't exactly warm to the characters, so I didn't feel fully invested in their lives, but the plot and writing were strong factors in my enjoyment.
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I fell in love with this story right from the first page. I can’t explain just how stunning the writing is. It drew me in and held me captive. I felt like I was seated with Alice Chang as she shared her story with me. The author took me into her life as I shared in her high and low moments. I absolutely enjoyed this book.

Alice is in her late 30s when her marriage falls apart and she moves back home with her mom. Her mother is dealing with the death of her husband, Alice’s dad, after 40 years together. However, she is not dealing with it like you’d expect a widow to. Ahma, as Alice calls her, is thriving. She looks better than ever and is now dating and has gone to work for the first time in ages. Mush to Alice’s confusion and hurt, Ahma seems happier than ever.

There was a bit of mystery in the story. Ahma’s happiness following her husband’s death had me scratching my head. What was her marriage like? How bad were thing for her? Why was she so quick to move on? To further heighten the tension, Alice discovered her father’s diary. Written in Korean, she can’t read it but has to wait for a translator. As readers, we are privy to the details of the diary as secrets are unlocked and we get to know more about her father before she does.

The character development in this story is what made it even more beautiful. I liked Ahma and Alice. They made me smile and I also shared in their low moments. The online dating episodes made me chuckle. These women were relatable in so many ways. 

This is a beautiful, masterfully crafted story about family, love, loss, betrayal, second chances and mother-daughter relationships. I can’t recommend it enough.
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Alice Chang is thirty nine, her marriage to her husband Louis has ended, she has moved in with her recently widowed mother and is single for the first time in twenty years. Her mother or Ahma as she calls her, has gone from being a traditional obedient Korean housewife, to a hot widow, she’s started a new career selling real estate, joined a gym and bought a whole new wardrobe. Her mother doesn’t seem to be grieving, in fact she quickly went through her husband’s processions, threw most of them out with the rubbish, and has started dating younger men.

Alice is struggling, she’s wondering if she really knew her parents at all, when she looks back they had a rather unusual relationship and she thought it was because of their Korean heritage. She saves some of her father’s belonging from the garbage, in the bottom of a bag she finds an old journal, it’s written in Korean a language she can speak and she didn’t learn to read. 

Alice works part time at the Restin Public Library, she asks Sam Park a co-worker to translate her father’s journal, her father shares his personal and private thoughts about his wife, daughter, his first love and a secret affair. A shocking story, some of which Sam could never tell Alice, it would break her heart and it changes both of their lives. Like Wind Against Rock is a story about a family, secrets. relationships, loss, grief and life.
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, some relationships are rather complicated and four stars from me.
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Very enjoyable read with relatable characters.  The book gives a glimpse of a life of Korean Americans and the do's and don't socially acceptables. 

The writing style is unique drawing the reader into the story and making you feel as part of it.

With heartbreaking passages but also happy ones this book brings the whole spectrum of emotions.

I truly liked and enjoyed this book.
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A novel of explosive family secrets, regret, and all the little decisions that shape our lives and make us who we are.

At the age of thirty-nine, Alice Chang suddenly finds herself living in the last place she expected: her mother’s house. But in the face of divorce, eviction, and the recent death of her father, she doesn’t have a choice.

Watching as her mother thrives in a new job and meets younger men at the local gym, Alice struggles, reflecting on her parents’ marriage, her relationship with each of them, as she adjusts to being single again for the first time in twenty years. Then she finds her father’s old journal…and uncovers a shocking family secret that forces her to question everything she thought she knew about love, regret, family, and her own path forward.

As Alice comes to terms with the man her father really was, she must finally decide who she wants to be and what it will take to get there.

Sheer escapism, beautifully written, I will look for more of this author’s work. 
My thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for my advance copy of this title. I highly recommend it.
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Alice Chang moves back into her family home following her separation and prior to her divorce. We engage with her and her relationships, including her mother, her best friend,employer and date. We hear her thoughts as she assesses her recent losses of husband and father. We are introduced to her mother, who has transitioned from a traditional Korean wife, into an independent and successful realtor who has just discovered online dating.Alice is amazed at the transition but fails to question her mother. .Amongst her fathers discarded possessions she discovers a notebook but is unable to read it. Upon asking her employer to translate the notebook we become party to its secrets. In turn we learn how this impacts upon her employer Sam. Altogether a well written, enchanting book with many insights into Korean American ways. I thoroughly enjoyed it
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I found this story quite sad. Alice is at a low ebb. Her father has died and her marriage has needed. While her mother reinvents herself and begins dating, Alice finds a notebook written by her father and has it translated. The connection between the man who translates the diary, it’s effects and repercussions is revealed much later in the story. I didn’t really connect with any of the characters, but just felt like most of,them were existing, not really living. It’s a decent read, but quite depressing.
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"𝐈𝐭’𝐬 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐈 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐮𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐫 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫. 𝐈 𝐣𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐧, 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐚 𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐭𝐥𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐞. 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐧 𝐬𝐞𝐞𝐦 𝐭𝐨 𝐦𝐢𝐬𝐬 𝐀𝐩𝐩𝐚.”

Alice Chang never imagined herself living with her widowed, Korean mother “Ahma” at the age of thirty-nine. Alice’s husband Louis has filed for divorce, the apartment she has been living in during their separation is no longer an option, now that the landlord is converting them into a condominium and she never told her parents they were living apart. She and Louis will not be reunited, it really is over, despite her wishes for the contrary. When her Ahma offers her the chance to save money by living with her “for a bit”, she accepts, and has to tell her mom she hasn’t been living with Lois. It’s just a necessary yet small lie, telling Ahma that they are just ‘taking a break’. As a bookkeeper, Alice isn’t swimming in money, there isn’t any other option that is good for her meager budget. Still, sharing a home with Ahma, watching her rebirth is a shock to Alice’s system. On the heels of her father’s unexpected death, she is stunned by her mother’s ‘transformation’ from devoted housewife to a sexy single, and one who is suddenly speaking English all the time, moving up in real estate work. She has come into her own in a big way! Being the widow of a dentist she certainly doesn’t need the money, and why the rush with dating? The cherry on top, her sixty-two year old mother is dating much younger men! Didn’t she love Appa, Alice’s father? Weren’t they happy? Where are the tears? Worse, she seems to want to clean out every trace of him. When she is asked to dispose of her father’s things, Alice keeps his notebook written in Korean, desperate to translate it yet fearful of handing private thoughts over to a stranger. For now, she keeps it hidden from her mother, who is sure if he had something to tell, he would have told his daughter in life. Living in her old bedroom, hiding things, she feels she is regressing. Her mother is like a rising sun, full of energy, happiness and light. Why dos this sting Alice so?

If only Alice could know how her father felt, surely he loved his daughter? His little family of three? Her mother is blooming while she is flailing after her long marriage and trying to come to terms with her emotionally distant father’s death. He was solid, dependable, a good man if not demonstrative and as involved as her Ahma. Troubled that her mother seems to be on a quest to “catch up on the life she missed”, when she seemed happy enough, even if she was the one always showing the affection, could it be there are pieces missing in her family story? Victor, a man she works for, is translating her father’s notebook, but there are dangerous secrets and burning regrets that can only hurt Alice and her mother. They aren’t the only ones. Appa’s reserve hid a lot about his internal struggles, the painful choices that haunted his heart and kept his marriage distant and cold. Is Alice ready to unearth the truth? One thing is certain, her mother is a person too, one that longed for more than pleasing her husband and mothering her beloved daughter.

It’s a complex family tale, one that exposes the traps of marriage and the shame of yearning as well as the limit of choices. Cultural expectations, young hearts, and the hope for those who have a second chance at a different life. Alice has to see her parents and their marriage with adult eyes, a transition that isn’t easy when marred by regrets. Where does she fit in all of this? How can she move forward now and let go of the plans she made with Lois? What does her late father’s words have to do with her own future? Engaging and moving.

Publication Date: June 1, 2021 Out Now

Lake Union Publishing
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I fell in love with this book right away. It was different from anything else I’ve read, and even though my life is nothing like the main character’s I felt connected to her and like I was right there with her. I felt this book was so well written, that even if this kind of book isn’t your norm, you would enjoy this one. This book has so much family drama, but it doesn’t take away from the beautiful story like it sometimes can. 100% recommend this book!
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Like Wind Against Rock by Nancy Kim

Alice Chang is back living at her childhood home following her separation and is appalled that her mother has morphed from homely housewife to an online dating, dressing too young, hard negotiating realtor since the death of Alice's father.  Alice slowly uncovers the truth of her parents' marriage and faces up to some truths about herself along the way.

I loved this book so much, from the very first page to the very end.  Mrs Chang was such a fantastic character, she really came to life on the page!  And how the story unfolded was so incredible - no spoilers!  I loved how the main character Alice changed/grew throughout the story.  Fantastic book, very highly recommended!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this book.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an electronic copy to read and review. 

Oh I wish this book was longer! It's ultimately a love story, but it is so sad too! Alice learns to grieve her father, love herself, and discovers secrets in her family.
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I enjoyed this book; it's good, light reading. A young woman approaching middle age has to move in with her recently widowed mother. Her mom is a "Merry Widow," going on dates and wearing form fitting clothes. Alice, on the other hand, is recently divorced and struggling to get her life back on track. She finds a notebook left by her late father, written in Korean. Alice finds an elderly man to translate it, and they both discover life-changing secrets.

Good storytelling, good characterization. Lots of loose ends left at the conclusion of the novel, but overall, I enjoyed this book.
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Alice is an only daughter. She's back at her mother's house after a separation from her husband. Even though she is not ready to date, her mother doesn't feel the same. A recent widow working on Real State, she's loving her new dating state of affairs. 
This book was not what I thought it would be. Although the writing was good, I couldn't connect with the characters.

Thank you Netgalley for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I really enjoyed this book. The synopsis was intriguing and caught my attention immediately. The story follows Alice Chang, who’s life has ended up in a place she never thought it would. She’s starting over after her husband decides they should divorce. She’s living with her mom and her dad has passed away. Much to her dismay, right after her dad dies, her mother seems quickly ready to move on. She disposes of his items and sells his car. Alice intercepts his items destined for the dump and finds among the belongings a journal. It is written in Korean, so she can’t read it. She asks her employer, Mr. Park, to translate it for her. The only problem is there are secrets to be revealed within those pages, that may be better left among the trash, undiscovered. 

While Alice is struggling with her new life circumstances, her mother has entered the dating scene and seems to be moving forward. The story of her fathers past unfolds through the journal entries. It brings into the light what it means to sacrifice for the sake of your family against all odds. 

Overall this was a good story. It was easy to read and I was able to finish it very quickly. The character development was good and I was able to connect with the characters and become invested in their story.

Thank you to NetGalley & Lake Union Publishing for the ARC.
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I loved this peek into family secrets and the past. I liked that it was the dad's journal that sparked all this, we don't see a lot of novels where a man's inner life triggers so much. I'm as tired of reading about men as the next person but I thought as a set up to the events in the book it was great and thought-provoking.
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I did not like this book at all. It’s a twisted tale of immoral secrets and deceit that I find offensive, and I am not easily offended.
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This is one of the loveliest novels I have read this year. Such a good surprise and a reminder of why I love having the opportunity to read a book before it has been published. 

Somehow Alice is living with her mother, after her father has died and her husband left her. Now, her mother is no longer the old fashioned Korean wife and mother, but an eager Internet dater, looking for excitement and a new beginning. It’s her mother’s zest for life that pushes Alice to step out of her own comfort zone. 

Alice has also saved a notebook that her father had been using as a journal before his death. She finally asks a colleague to translate it and within the translation is an intriguing subplot. Every character is incredibly likable and so well developed that I pictured them vividly. 

This is a very special book. I was totally engaged and I loved the characters. I noticed it had questions for book club discussions, so I was excited at the opportunity to share the book and subsequent discussion with my own book club. 

Thank you Netgalley for this early holiday gift.
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A father dies. A mother drastically changes. A woman’s life is up ended by both. This is an enthralling story of mysteries and of connectedness. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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The relationship between the immigrant parent and child is… unique… to say the least. Often characterized by high standards and a seemingly ever-widening cultural chasm, there is a sense of pressure applied to both parties. The immigrant parent feels the pressure to provide, to give their child the opportunities that they never had. The child of an immigrant feels the pressure to fulfill parental expectations, to ensure that their parent’s sacrifices weren’t in vain. This pressure manifests itself in exacting standards that we all feel we must adhere to for our entire lives. What we all forcefully ignore is the reality that neither of us can adhere to such standards forever. No one can. 

In Like Wind Against Rock, Kim explores what happens when those standards are broken. What happens when your immigrant mother is widowed? Is she expected to languish in loneliness until her death? What happens when you get divorced? Most importantly, what happens when you find yourself on a path entirely different than the one you expected yourself to follow your entire life? Kim’s method of addressing this inevitable question all immigrant families will face is characterized by a frankness unlike any other book about the immigrant experience that I have ever read. She doesn’t shy away from dealing with the uncomfortable realities of facing how who we truly are differs greatly from the standards we tried so desperately to adhere to. 

In a mother and a daughter, the reader is able to find both empathy and a deep sense of being known. Their struggles, when it comes down to it, are universal. But messaging isn’t the only reason why this book is so effective. The reason Like Wind Against Rock is able to provoke a profound impact is because of vivid characters. 

Alice and her mother truly feel like nothing less than real people to me. In fact, it’s hard to imagine that they don’t exist. Specifically, I need to address character development. A common misconception is that character development is linear, as if characters in books grow from ignorance at point A to enlightenment at point B. That’s simply not true. Humans don’t ever just grow and then stop. The process of growth isn’t as simple as evolving through a single course of time. We grow, we regress. We learn, we fail. Kim understands this cyclical nature of character development in real life humans and applies that to her characters. 

I could go on for much longer, but here’s how I’ll sum things up: read this book. If you’re a person who is living the immigrant experience, read this book. If you’re a person who hasn’t lived the immigrant experience, still read this book. Read it to explore the part of the immigrant experience that is rarely given the attention it deserves, and certainly read it to meet two people who will never quite leave your life.
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