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Please Look After Mom (Vintage Contemporaries) [Paperback]

Kyung-Sook Shin , Kyong-Suk Sin
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.82
Price: 8.81 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

3 April 2012 Vintage Contemporaries

MAN ASIAN LITERARY PRIZE WINNER

When sixty-nine-year-old So-nyo is separated from her husband among the crowds of the Seoul subway station, her family begins a desperate search to find her. Yet as long-held secrets and private sorrows begin to reveal themselves, they are forced to wonder: how well did they actually know the woman they called Mom?
 
Told through the piercing voices and urgent perspectives of a daughter, son, husband, and mother, Please Look After Mom is at once an authentic picture of contemporary life in Korea and a universal story of family love.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 254 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books; Reprint edition (3 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307739511
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307739513
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.1 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 681,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars family relations and bonding 6 May 2014
By Jon Jin
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is set in a different setting but the moving theme is the same no matter where it is set.
We seem to understand family members especially parents like the palm of the hand. but we keep forgetting they are getting old day by day. It is a reminder to us that parents do not stay with us forever. Well written and a thought-provoking book. I recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well recommend for others 18 Mar 2014
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
VERY GOOD QUALITY AS EXPECTED
Delivered as described
Easy to transect
Well translated and good to read
kind enough the seller
Recommend for others
Simple to use
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5.0 out of 5 stars A moving novel, both powerful and fragile 1 July 2012
By PT Cruiser TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Kyung-Sook Shin has written an exceptional novel and I can see why it is a bestseller in its native language, in Korea. It is a story about relationships, about families and those close to us. The story is about a mother who is separated from her husband when boarding a train in Seoul, South Korea,on the way to visit her eldest son and her family's search for her. It is told in four voices, a daughter, a son, a husband and a mother. The story unfolds in mostly second-person narration, from the point of view of each these characters. The translator, Chi-Young Kim did an excellent job with the translation and made it seem as though it were originally written in English.

Rather than being given a lot of intimate details about each of these people, the author brings us into the drama of the mother disappearing at the station, and although we come to know a little more about the mother, there are really more questions than answers about the other family members. I normally like stories with a lot of character development, but somehow, this really worked and I was quickly drawn in, perhaps in the way of an accident or other tragedy where you don't want to look, but somehow need to know how and why it happened and how the people involved are affected. In many cases Kyung-Sook Shin gives only a few details and it is up to the reader to fill in the blanks. It gives a glimpse into the culture of present day South Korea both in a large city and in a rural area and we can see how much things have changed in only a single generation. It only took a few pages to become very involved.

This story is about complex emotions and interactions between family members. It was striking how differently each member of the family handled the disappearance.
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars hardback book 17 Jan 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
my daughter in law wanted this book for christmas,she seemed very happy with it.I don't know if she has read it yet.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  280 reviews
344 of 356 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A moving novel, both powerful and fragile 5 Mar 2011
By PT Cruiser - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Kyung-Sook Shin has written an exceptional novel and I can see why it is a bestseller in its native language, in Korea. It is a story about relationships, about families and those close to us. The story is about a mother who is separated from her husband when boarding a train in Seoul, South Korea,on the way to visit her eldest son and her family's search for her. It is told in four voices, a daughter, a son, a husband and a mother. The story unfolds in mostly second-person narration, from the point of view of each these characters. The translator, Chi-Young Kim did an excellent job with the translation and made it seem as though it were originally written in English.

Rather than being given a lot of intimate details about each of these people, the author brings us into the drama of the mother disappearing at the station, and although we come to know a little more about the mother, there are really more questions than answers about the other family members. I normally like stories with a lot of character development, but somehow, this really worked and I was quickly drawn in, perhaps in the way of an accident or other tragedy where you don't want to look, but somehow need to know how and why it happened and how the people involved are affected. In many cases Kyung-Sook Shin gives only a few details and it is up to the reader to fill in the blanks. It gives a glimpse into the culture of present day South Korea both in a large city and in a rural area and we can see how much things have changed in only a single generation. It only took a few pages to become very involved.

This story is about complex emotions and interactions between family members. It was striking how differently each member of the family handled the disappearance. There are emotions that most of us could identify with in some way: helplessness, guilt, impatience, sadness and also joy. It was powerful and fragile at the same time. There are lessons to be learned and questions about how we view our relationships. It's the kind of story I'll be thinking about for a long time.

Try not to read too many spoilers if you're planning to read this book. The story needs to be uncovered layer, by layer, just as it was written. Two thumbs up for this moving novel.
107 of 113 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intense, Emotional, Gripping 24 Mar 2011
By JLee - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a unique novel, unlike anything I had read before. It is extraordinarily emotional. I couldn't put it down.

A wife and husband have journeyed from their family farm to the city to visit their grown children. He rushes onto a subway train, expecting her to follow. He travels several stops before he even realizes she's not there.

The family has to deal with the trauma of having their mother/wife/sister-in-law missing. She has various health problems that add to their concerns, and time passes with few leads. They all recall past events that make them realize how important she was to them and how they took her devotion and hard work for granted. They also begin to comprehend how little they truly knew about her feelings, hopes and dreams - - the person behind labels like "mother" or "wife."

The book is alternately heartbreakingly sad and uplifting. It will make you want to hug every person you care about and tell them how much you love them. Better yet, I hope it will make you ask them questions about who they truly are, what their childhood was like, what they wanted in life. All those things you can't ask after they are gone.

It was also fascinating to read about Korean culture and history as it related to the family. However, in the long run, this book is a universal story of human life, equally relevant to modern America.

I highly, highly recommend this beautiful book to everyone. In fact, it should be required reading because you will never see your family, particularly your mother, the same way again.
79 of 85 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Please Look After Mom 27 Mar 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
~
I don't remember ever feeling so fortunate to get my hands on an Advance Reader's Copy, than I did after finishing this English translated Korean best seller, Please Look After Mom. This is definitely one of my favorite Vine books, and it will certainly have a place among my favorites in my personal library.

The novel revolves around an elderly Korean woman, Park So-nyo, who goes missing after losing contact with her husband at the Seoul subway station. As her family feverishly searches for her, the reader gets a taste of what type of person Park So-nyo was, and a feel for the relationships she shared with her loved-ones. The whole book is told in 4 chapters, by 4 different characters: 2 of the missing woman's children, her husband, and the missing woman herself.

I loved every minute that I was able to steal away and read Kyung-soak Shin's poetic prose, and I'd recommend this book to anyone who is a mother, who knows a mother, or who has a mother.
53 of 60 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written but hard to follow 23 May 2011
By S OBrien - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
"Please Look After Mom" is the kind of book I find myself gravitating towards these days...books about different cultures. This book delivers great insight into the Korean culture and the interfamial workings of a Korean family. Each of the four relationships are depicted from the point of view of the individual. The central point of the book is the varied reactions of four family members to the mysterious loss of their Mom at a crowded Seoul Train Station. Father gets on the train but Mom does not. The family reacts as most families would. We never do find out exactly what happened to Mom.

Two negatives with this book: the use of the word "You" for every character brings confusion as to who is speaking. Second: I enjoyed the book but could not get excited about reading it straight through. I procrastinated and took weeks to finish it. This is the reason I gave this book 3 stars. I would not discourage readers from reading it but be advised that is's a slow read.

S O'Brien, Illinois
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Do We Really Know Mom? 26 May 2011
By Beverly Jackson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin is an endearing and emotionally moving story on a subject none of us would like to have happen - the disappearance of a loved one; in this case the mother of the family. While on their way to visit to Seoul to visit with their children, 69 year-old So-nyo gets separated from her husband at a Seoul subway station. One minute she is behind him getting on a crowded train, but once the train doors close, the husband looks around and realizes his wife is not with him. Going back to the station, expecting to see So-nyo patiently waiting for him, she is nowhere to be found. Her selfish children are consumed with grief and guilt, but move into action to find their missing mother. As they argue over the text for the "Missing" flyers they will paste all over town, the strategy of placing ads in the newspaper, how much is an appropriate reward, they realize that none of them have a recent photo of their mom, but only an old formal picture that vaguely resembles their mom. As they follow-up all leads, and as each examines their relationship with mom, a far more important question arises - Who is their mom?

This breathtaking and suspenseful tale is narrated from four different points of view within the family: the daughter, Chi-hon, a widely recognized author whose relationship with her mother was not always peaceful; the eldest son, Hyong-chol, who was often burdened with the responsibilities of being the eldest and a male; the too often unfaithful husband, a torn man who only now recognizes the deep feelings he has for his wife; and lastly the mother herself. Each chapter adds a layer to the story's depth and complexity, and this is made more powerful by the mother telling her story last and in the first-person, confirming or correcting what the previous narrators have said, and most importantly revealing who she is as a person without the label of mother, wife, or daughter.

While the book's themes are universal, the details of the story are specific to contemporary Korea. I got a good glimpse into window of the culture of Korea, its food, festivals, traditions and family dynamics. The writing was spell-binding as the author skillfully juxtaposed images of modern Korea vs. wartime Korea, city living vs. country living, and older generation vs. younger generation. After finishing this book, it caused me to pause, and think about myself as a mother and a daughter - do I really know my mother and do my children really know me.

I recommend this book to readers who enjoy stories of family dynamics, emotional stories, or stories set in Asia.

Reviewed by Beverly
APOOO Literary Book Review
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