Synopsis: In 1948 Najin and Calvin Cho, with their young daughter Miran, travel from South Korea to the United States in search of new opportunities. Wary of the challenges ahead, Najin and Calvin make the difficult decision to leave their other daughter, Inja, behind with their extended family; soon, they hope, they will return to her.
But then war breaks out in Korea, and there is no end in sight to the separation. Miran grows up in prosperous American suburbia, under the shadow of the daughter left behind, as Inja grapples in her war-torn land with ties to a family she doesn’t remember. Najin and Calvin desperately seek a reunion with Inja, but are the bonds of love strong enough to reconnect their family over distance, time and war? And as deep family secrets are revealed, will everything they long for be upended?
Told through the alternating perspectives of the distanced sisters, and inspired by a true story, The Kinship of Secrets explores the cruelty of war, the power of hope, and what it means to be a sister.
Review: There are a couple of words I could use to describe Eugenia Kim’s The Kinship of Secrets and those are beautiful, riveting and heartbreaking.
The Kinship of Secrets tells the story of two sisters -Miran and Inja – separated by the Korean War, the fifth deadliest war in human history. This book is the continuation of Inja’s story from Eugenia Kim’s first novel The Calligrapher’s Daughter.
We learn from both of the sisters’ perspectives as they grow up from children to adults. Miran, the eldest sister, grew up with her parents in the United States while Inja grew up in war-torn South Korea with her Uncle and grandparents.
The author perfectly captured the contrast between the two places and the lives of the sisters’. The reader can feel emotions pouring out from each and every sentence in the book.
What was meant to be a one or two years of separation turned out to be of 16 years as war and then immigration laws became a barrier to the reunion. However, Inja doesn’t mind as she is content staying with her loving uncle and grandparents.
Finally, when Inja’s time to leave Korea for the US arrives, she’s torn apart at the thought of leaving the only family she has known her entire life. What decision will she make? Leave Korea and be with her parents and sister? or, stay with her uncle and his family?
Overall, this is a brilliantly written own voices novel that bears witness to the aftermaths of war and the consequence of secrets kept. The moral of the story is in the title itself, how secrets shared and kept demonstrates the meaning of love.
I highly encourage you to pick up this book not only because of the marvelous story, characters, and Eugenia Kim’s writing but for the fact that the story is inspired by Kim’s own life and you can read about it the author’s note at the end the story.
I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange of an honest review.
Verdict: 5 out of 5 stars
Author: Connect with Author Eugenia Kim on Goodreads.
- Publisher: Bloomsbury India
- Publication Date: Nov 2018
- Paperback(ARC): 304 Pages