Cover Image: The Apology

The Apology

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Member Reviews

“Bold, original, and utterly captivating, The Apology is a sweeping intergenerational saga, delivered by one of the sharpest, most memorable voices I’ve ever read.

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I really liked the Apology, and its look into an old Korean woman's life and afterlife. I appreciated the look-back on the protagonist's life and how trauma can be held over generations.

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If there's such a thing as a beautiful multigenerational ghost story, this is it. Irreverent in all the right ways, and understanding that family amd the choices we make are complicated.

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THE GOOD: Our centenarian leading lady is a hoot! And learning about her Korean culture was enjoyable.

THE BAD: The introductory section is written in very choppy, short sentences that created a stressful atmosphere that almost made me abandon the book very early. The post-death portions seem like a different book than the scenes from when our main character was alive. Pretty disjointed.

CONCLUSION: Enjoyable, but not the all-consuming masterpiece the reviews lead one to believe.

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There were things that I really enjoyed about this novel. However the story really dragged at times. The first chapter really pulls you in, but the following chapters fall flat. I think you need to be really familiar with Korean family dynamics to get the full effect/impact of this novel.

I liked the themes of confronting the past and generational trauma. This story however just did not ever hit any of those notes that made it really come alive for me.

The writing was terrific and at times I was spell bound the main character's perfect ignorance to her own failings. She was so oblivious and it's hilarious because it's written from her point of view, but as a reader you are just shaking your head at her.

The end was heartwarming, but lacked drama. From this first chapter you think the story is going to be drama with a capital D, but it's really not about that. It's about the main character coming to terms at the end of her life with the her decisions and how they have affected the people around her.

It is really nice to see a book emphasize the fact that people's lives intersect and choices can affect generations. It's an encouragement to live consciously, but also in a way that lifts up others. It emphasizes the choice we have as individuals.

I don't think anyone could get to the end of this book and be disappointed that they read it.

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Jeonga Cha is the 105 year old matriarch of her Korean family. She has done her best to lead and keep the family intact and that includes hiding some secrets. In a captivating account, we hear what happens to her both in her life and afterlife as she struggles to make right what she chose long ago. This is an enthralling novel for anyone who enjoys family histories, drama and of course secrets!
#LittleBrownandco #TheApology #JiminHan

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the E-ARC copy!

"The Apology" follows Jeonga Cha, a 105-year-old woman in South Korea that is forced to reckon with her past after a life-changing letter arrives in the mail from a distant relative in America.

The book certainly starts with a bang. We follow our protagonist in the last moments of her life and then in her emergence in the afterlife. It is in this plane between life and death that Jeonga is finally able to look back on her life and the series of choices that led her to the events of the prior few days in which the consequences of her actions have finally caught up to her.

From there, we travel back in time through Jeonga's memories to unearth every secret and mistake that Jeonga must confront.

With a premise as intriguing as that, I was hooked from the first page. I really enjoyed the theme of reflection and how the nonlinear timeline played into it – it reminded me of another novel that I enjoyed: "Paradise of the Blind" by Duong Thu Huong. Similar to that story, The Apology details the legacy of one family over multiple generations, paying special attention to its female members. The women in this story certainly stand out most. Jeonga herself, her sisters (particularly Seona, who was exiled from her family when she eloped with husband and moved to North Korea), Chohui, Joyce, Hayan, and more. I really enjoyed learning about each character and their various stories – Han really succeeding in developing an interesting cast of characters, all with their own personalities and nuances.

I also really enjoyed the themes of this novel and how it explored the concept of familial sacrifice and internal atonement. However, at the end of the day, I just felt that the message Han was aiming to convey came off as a bit on-the-nose sometimes, particularly with the whole afterlife concept. There's a whole sequence toward the end of the novel where Jeonga is building up to understanding the extent of her mistakes and it just feels a bit heavy-handed. My enjoyment admittedly waned at that point.

In a similar vein, I kind of expected the book to go deeper on the subject and really take advantage of the storyline's potential. There was a lot of opportunity here to really unpack the repercussions and consequences of the past and how culture played into all of it, but I feel like not all of that potential was ever unlocked.

Han is a talented writer though, very clearly adept in prose and style, and I think she too has a lot of potential when it comes to any future works. I have not read her debut but I have no doubt that this sophomore novel shows a lot of evolution in craft and that her next will show the same.

Overall, I enjoyed this and I think people who love multi-generational stories following complicated families and complicated characters will appreciate this story of many layers. If any of that sounds interesting to you, the person who is currently reading this review for whatever reason, keep an eye out for the novel when it releases on August 1st!

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Spanning several generations of Jeonga’s family, this story is an interesting look into generational trauma. I admit I had a difficult time focusing on the story at times as it seems to pull between realistic fiction and a ghost story, but the themes are beautiful and well understood despite the genre variations.

We get a deep, intimate look at the pain of unresolved family trauma. The main character Jeonga, now at the end of her life, must come to terms with how her own actions and decisions negatively impacted her loved ones. Once she understands her place in the problem, she is able to find healing (by way of apologies) and peace.

I suppose the ultimate lesson to take away from this book is don’t wait to apologize until it’s too late; start healing and forgiveness now while you can. An easy lesson to hear, a difficult one to follow.

3.5/5 ⭐️

Thank you to Little, Brown and Company, and NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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The Apology is centered around a particular decision made by Cha Jeonga, and how this past decision has come back to haunt her after her death. Now a 105 year-old Korean woman, Jeonga must come to terms with how she lived her life and affected the lives of people around her.

The structure of this book is so interesting and it was unique to read a book like this. Unfortunately the portrayal of Jeonga wasn't very enjoyable for me. Rather than finding her a funny, and quirky old woman, I found her actions to be frustrating and annoying. And the same for her sisters. I found myself rushing through this book, feeling like I just wanted to finish it and get it over with. It did get better in the second half when Jeonga enters the afterlife and starts to reflect on how she lives, but overall, this just wasn't as enjoyable as I'd hoped it would be.

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I had trouble keeping interested in this story, I tried, just kept loosing track and finally finished, but so plodding and slow. I just could not enjoy this book. Someone else may love it.

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as a bit of a fantasy/supernatural virgin, this was a delightful toe dip into the genre. part family saga, part ghost story.

a south korean centenarian, jeonga, discovers an unsavory secret about her family that she unknowingly had a hand in. desperate to maintain her family's legacy while navigating complicated relationships with her overbearing sisters, she heads to america to right her wrongs.

a little fam drama, a little spOoOoky, a little soap opera digest. entertaining in it's unexpected oddities. excited to see this puppy on shelves in august 2023!

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I tried to like this but did not. The story was very slow and the writing was off for me. I did like the concept of multi-generational stories but this was hard to follow.


Thank you for a copy to review.

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From the very first page, I was hooked by Jeonga Cha, a Korean centenarian who is both imperious and incredibly vulnerable. Rarely have I encountered such an ingenious premise in a novel: many years ago, Jeonga did something to preserve her family honor and conceal an impropriety. Now, so many years later, she must undo the damage created by that one act, or sentence her family to a curse that will last for generations. Undoing the damage involves a long journey and herculean effort, but Jeonga takes it on.

It wasn't just the character of Jeonga that I loved about the book, but the way it immersed us in Korean history and culture. In the course of reading, we learn about the suffering of Koreans under Japanese occupation and the division between north and south. Through Jeonga's eyes, we can see how these events impacted ordinary people--how Jeonga, a single woman, tried to protect herself and her family during the Japanese occupation, and how she lost a beloved sister in the division of the country between north and south. These events were very moving, as were Jeonga's coming to terms with herself as she battles to save her family from the afterlife. This is a very unique, beautifully written, and moving story I recommend to all.

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I loved this book. It provided a lot of insight as to intergenerational healing, which I greatly appreciated. I was in awe that the book was so riveting, even though the narrator was (at times) so unlikeable. It felt very realistic. I really liked the description of the afterlife.

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I really tried to like this book but it was not for me. I never got into the story. I tried sticking it out, but ultimately did DNF this one about the 60% mark. I wasn’t a fan of the characters – I found them annoying and grating. I didn’t like the twist about the half way mark – it just didn’t work for me. I think there is great potential for this story – it just fell flat for me.

I will not be posting reviews on this one outside NetGalley.

Thank you so much to the publisher and netgalley for this e-arc in exchange for this honest review.

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Right off the bat I was sucked into the story and the intrigue surrounding it and then about half way through it fell flat. I found myself becoming annoyed by the characters and as the story progressed they became more one dimensional. At times I felt like putting it aside but I really like to finish reader's advances so I can give an honest review. I personally feel that if the story had been all ghost or all alive it would have told a better tale. Trying to combine the two storylines separated the book into 2 halves that never quite matched up.

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The Apology is one of the more interesting books that I've read this year. Told from the perspective of an acerbic and witty centegenarian, Jeonga, the novel explores multi-generational families and the effects of keeping secrets.

The very first chapter draws you in, and by the half-way point, I was hooked on learning more. The second half of the novel brings in supernatural elements, which while very interesting, were sometimes lacking explanation, making it a bit confusing, but by the end, I was as satisfied as Jeonga in the conclusion.

Overall, The Apology is not like anything I've ever read before and I'm glad that I had the chance!

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The Apology is a truly special story that all readers will appreciate. How many of us wish we could correct the missteps of our past, that we would have the chance to travel both on earth and in an otherworldly realm, that we could reconnect with past loves. In this story, Jeonga Cha is haunted by ghosts, actual and imagined from decisions she made in the past. She’s lived for one hundred and five years as a privileged, wealthy woman and now she is determined to set the record straight and correct any errors of the past. Oh, that we all could have such a chance! (That I could, too!) Part ghost story and part family epic, The Apology finds its place in our hearts and won't let go. I thought about Jeonga for days and weeks after reading this. I still do. That is a good story, that is a great book!

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The Apology by Jimin Han is a powerful intergenerational saga that is also a ghost story about the effort to repair mistakes made in the earthly realm from the afterlife. Our protagonist, Jeonga Cha, is the daughter who wants more than any of her sisters to please her father (even after his death) and protect the family name. When her sister, Seona becomes pregnant out of wedlock she sends her away to the US and this has severe implications for the family lineage. This decision tears Jeonga and her own son's relationship apart and also damages the bond between Jeonga and Seona.

I love how readers are able to journey along with Jeonga in the afterlife as she seeks to apologize to her sister and make amends for her choices. At first, we are not sure Seona will appear to Jeonga. There is so much hurt in their history and Seona is not necessarily the type of woman who is apologetic by nature. Over the course of the story, Jeonga meets her extended family, views first hand the negative impact of her choices, and is humbled into taking a different approach towards helping the family and as a result her and her sister heal.

In the end, apologies are sincerely made and generational curses are broken. A beautiful story about what it takes for generational healing to occur with a focus on the supernatural and spiritual elements that make healing possible.

Thank you to the publisher and the author for the e-arc copy!

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