This was unfortunately not the all-consuming story I thought it would be.
The beginning is full of short choppy sentences and I had a really difficult time sticking to this book. As a whole, the story itself is great, but the execution of the writing wasn't there for me.
3.5 rounded up.
The premise for this novel is excellent, and the dual timeline is a favorite storytelling device for me. Unfortunately the writing and the perspective shifts felt uneven and a little stiffly executed, which made my connection to the characters difficult.
This book forced me to step outside of my comfort zone as I am not a big historical fiction reader. I found it to be enjoyable enough to finish, but it was not something I would pick up again.
I realize that I am in the minority with my opinion of this book. However, something about the writing style was a problem for me, breaking up the flow of the narrative and distracting me. If you love stories of families that are filled with normal people, people who do not live perfect lives, layered people that present different sides at different times, this might be the book for you. It just wasn't the title for me.
"I hated people. They had always been terrible." Okay, this is the kind of 105-year old protagonist I want to read about. I've appreciated this author's interviews - “My parents’ accounts of being torn from their families during the Korean War as children were talked about so often that I felt this kind of particular disaster was always an imminent possibility for me too." (from LitHub). I understand why this narrator is talking to us from the afterlife--and yet it's comforting too, like a continuation. An intriguing, haunting, diasporic novel.
Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for offering me a copy of this book. It was a great book and I loved hearing from an Asian-American author.
This was an intelligent and engaging family drama. Told from the perspective of that Aunt that no one in your family can understand or tolerate. Of course, everyone is just doing the best they can to get along and be liked and especially important for this family, to be respected. But times and situations change. The family long ago recognized that but didn’t fully realize how much they had to change / correct and how little time there really was!
A fun, engaging, well written story. You’ll especially enjoy it if you’re a person that enjoys fashion and style or have family members that insist on “keeping up appearances” at all costs.
Hak Jeonga, a 105-year-old South Korean woman becomes frantic when she gets a letter from her grand-niece, Joyce, in America, asking for financial help as Joyce's son is to wed soon. It's the name of the girl he is to marry that drives Jeonga to head off the marriage in order to save her family's history and descendants.
The book was very interesting, especially Jeonga's secrets that have come back to haunt her in her old age. When she dies in an accident, however, and haunts the other world with her quest to head off possible disaster in her family back on earth, the story becomes disjointed and the world of ghosts, unconvincing and unreal.
Jeonga may be able to achieve her goal, but the reader is left in a yellow mist like that of her afterlife experience, so that I felt it was not convincing nor the other ghosts very interesting in behavior and speech. The book picks up in the end, however.
This was close to being a DNF, because I was bored. I was really looking forward to the story about 3 sisters, and the opening tease that set the story up as a trip down memory lane was intriguing, but.. the story was just really weak and never went anywhere. I have spent a lot of time in Korea over the past decade, and have lived in Asia for almost a dozen years, so it wasn't a matter of not understanding the culture.. in fact, there wasn't all that much "Korean culture," if I'm to be honest - it was more incidental most of the time. None of the characters were compelling, the major plot "twist" or arc was silly (slight spoiler) as third cousins-once removed, or whatever biological connection the two characters shared, isn't that close.
I wanted to love this, but.. it seems this long story, serving as an apology was a big set-up for something minor.
Although usually not my forte, I did, actually, like the magical-realism element of the plot. That was at least slightly interesting. However, that being said, I still don't get the symbolism of the persimmon (yes, I do know the spiritual meaning in Buddhism, but if it is really meant to be that literal, I truly wasted my time).
I'm not sure if I'd try another story by this author or not. Parts of the writing were lyrical and interesting, but.. they were few and far between.
I fear that a lot of the hype it gets is from people who want to seem "woke" for liking this "mystical" story that takes on an under-represented ethnic group. Sorry, but that's just not enough to make me write something more positive.
Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for the ARC in exchange for my honest opinions.
Yes, this is a ghost story, perfect for autumn and October hauntings.
But it is also a deeply moving family story.
It's about the importance of family. About being haunted by your past mistakes. About valuing family above all else. About prejudice and fear. About life and death. About making journeys, and making mistakes, and making amends.
The Apology is all of these things, and more. A must read.
"She must know, of course, that I'd failed to preserve our family's reputation, that I'd cursed the generations to come. Why else was she torturing me?"
I'm still not sure how I feel about this book after finishing it and thinking about it for several days. There's a lot of fascinating stuff going on here, but I struggle with the pacing, where the story starts, and where it chooses to spend its time. It didn't quite feel satisfying in the end, but I definitely enjoyed many bits and pieces of it.
I hate not giving glowing reviews of books for which I was really excited, but I just...can't for this one. Although there are some portions of the book that are lyrical and lovely, the overall pace is just so plodding, and the sentences are choppy and repetitive, which led to a real sense of disjointedness while reading. I had a really difficult time feeling anything for any of the characters involved until literally almost the end of the book - Jeonga and her sisters were more annoying than they were anything else, and the character for whom I had the most affection was the constantly-tangential Chohui. I wanted to love this book, but as it stands, it was more of a chore to get through than it was an enjoyable experience. Only the fact that I kept hoping it would get better kept me reading until the end.
This book was not for me. I only got 20% in and had to stop. I could not keep interested in the story and it was hard for me to keep track of the family. There are so many people to keep track of and I couldn’t remember who each was to one another. None of them are extremely likable. I’m sure this book will be well liked by others but it just isn’t for me. Thank you for the copy.
As parents, we make so many decisions with the hope for best possible outcomes.
Jeonga's decision cost her her relationship with her son, sending ripples of impact out into the world. Upon her death, she returns to those circumstances - watching as that on decision brought her to death.
Very intriguing and though provoking.
This story sweeps across South Korea to America and involves family secrets including an illegitimate birth. This story has elements of realism and part family epic.
Part ghost story and part family saga, this novel follows a centenarian protagonist who is determined to move quickly after receiving a letter that may potentially reveal a family secret she’s worked hard to keep hidden for many years. It is a layered story about sisterhood, family and regrets. The premise was unique and intriguing with hints of good humour sprinkled in it. I found the ending to have ended abruptly and more could’ve been explored but it was an enjoyable read overall.
Thanks to Little Brown and Company for the eARC.
This was incredibly good! I could see it being picked up by some book clubs for sure. Highly recommend from me!
I do enjoy an intergenerational drama and 'The Apology' really lived up to its description. As our main character Jeonga learns, despite her best efforts, family secrets will always come out and need to be dealt with. The family dynamics are fun and complicated in turn, I really liked the sisters dynamics. If you like historical fiction I would definitely recommend this even though it's certainly a lighter ghost story primarily, there's a lot of historical information to set our scene and cast of characters.
Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.
An 105 year old character isn't something you see everyday and it is definitely what made me want to pick this up. I questioned myself because I don't always love ghosts, but Han pulls it off masterfully. A beautiful work of historical fiction that will educate you and make you think!
While this title has an engaging and interesting main character it was slow enough to progress the story that I found myself putting it down in favor of reading something else. Perhaps I'll pick it up again and try to finish it at another time.