The Island Of Sea Women by Lisa See. New York: Scribner, 2019. 374 pages. *****+
Set on the Korean Island of Jeju, Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls from very different backgrounds, form a friendship that is tested over many decades. Both girls are members of a Haenyeo community, an all-female diving collective, which supports their family with what they retrieve and sell. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, which forever sets her apart from the others, and Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother's position as a leader. The girls are inseparable until they come of age and marry their arranged husbands. Their friendship and the lives of the women on the island are chronicled through the Japanese colonialism of the 1930s and 1940s, World War II and the Korean War. Can a friendship survive betrayal, death, and jealousy?
See's wonderfully written saga of these strong, united women will grab you and keep you reading until the very end. The dangers of diving in extreme cold and the hazards of being attacked by sea life are vividly portrayed and haunting. Young-sook and Mi-ja each have their own obstacles in life, which sets them apart from each other, however, each one maintains a connection to the other throughout their lives. I highly recommend this book and can't stop thinking about it, always the sign of a good book. Prior to this novel, my favorite book by See was Snowflower and the Secret Fan. I enjoy historical novels, which transport me to an unfamiliar culture and place in time. See never disappoints and this novel is an excellent choice for Book Clubs to read and discuss.
For more information on Lisa See: Facebook.com/LisaSeeBooks, www.LisaSee.com
#historicalfiction #theislandofseawomen #haenyeo