Goodreads rating: 4.08/5
Author: Young-Im Lee
Genre: historical fiction
DARE TO DREAM IN THE MIDST OF WAR.
1945. Rice fields seem endless in a quaint farming village of South Korea, yet Iseul the villagers have been starving for as long as they can remember. Their Japanese colonizers have taken every last grain with them as they are finally forced out of the Peninsula. In the newly independent Korea, Iseul and Jung-Soo dream of what their future might bring. Yet, war is on the horizon, and Iseul has fallen for an alleged North Korean communist spy.
Men are conscripted and rice is taken to feed the growing army as the Peninsula is thrust into an international war that would determine if the strategic region will become communist or democratic. With nothing but the news of death and hunger awaiting the village of women, children and the aged, Iseul musters up whatever hope she has left to bring the village together to make paper. Soon, the village once known for its rice, becomes famous for its paper, becoming a beacon of hope for their battle-worn soldiers awaiting letters from their loved ones.
Yet spies and communists continue to roam South Korea, turning neighbors and families against one another. For years, Jung-Soo has been suspicious of his father’s allegiances. With a series of mysterious revelations about his father, Jung-Soo is forced to choose between his tainted communist past, and the future he hopes to have with Iseul after the war.
In the current international climate where North Korea takes center stage, “Forgotten Reflections” weaves an inspirational tale of family, lost memories, folklore and an unforgotten history, spanning three generations as South Korea rises from the ashes.
The above taken from Goodreads. I was given this e-ARC in return of my honest review.
This book is more or less about Iseul, a carpenter's daughter, reliving her past and her present. It was split into 3 parts covering before the war, during and after plus concurrently of her granddaughter's search of Iseul's past long forgotten. As the story concentrated more of the past, I tend to forget the current but it did weaved back and forth seamlessly.
I've enjoyed the first part of the historical background of the story when Iseul, Jung-Soo and Yoong-Hoon were acquainted before the war. Their friendship was sacred though when the war started, it was lined with treacherous and lies. Though Iseul was betrothed to Yoong-Hoon, Jung-Soo was her heart and soul.
Then part 2 during the war, some bits and pieces of Yoong-Hoon and Iseul, with the latter gathering the remaining villagers to make papers. Majority of the story was of Jung-Soo, on how he survived the treachery and remained a soldier, how he made it through the war and tried to go back to Yeoju, to Iseul.
Part 3 is the reconciliation between Jung-Soo and Iseul when the former finally found his way back to Yeoju and tried to save the village. With the rice mystery unfolded, Jung-Soo managed to gain the villagers trust and fight back the Chinese and North Korean armies.
Overall, though part 2 was kinda dragging on and slow for me, the starting intrigued me and the ending was engaging enough for me to quickly finished the book. It was like a love triangle huddled by the war and finally true love prevails. Not forgetting Iseul's granddaughter's task in finding out the truth when aged Iseul seemed to have lost it. However, it had ended on a different note which had me at 'aiyah'!
For those who love anything Korean and historical, this is an easy read. I was humbly surprised by how well this was written with a simple, straight forward prose. Though it flips back to the future and forth to the present, it was addressed correctly so as not to confuse the readers. I was confused at first as I'm quite bad with Asian names but after awhile it was fine. I've also learn a thing or two about Koreans LOL!
I liked that the author has added her notations on how she has started writing this book, what inspires her and her thoughts on the war. It really made sense from the start to the end. I liked how this book is so unlike those typical Korean soap operas... of course this is way, way much better :-) A war story... indeed.
If you would like to read this novel, you can obtained it online here:
Barnes and Noble: https://goo.gl/7UTYMM
Barnes and Noble: https://goo.gl/7UTYMM