Rating: 4 Stars
I’ve always loved reading memoirs as I find that well written documents of the lives of people living through extraordinary circumstances to be fascinating. In particular, when a memoir sheds light on an area in history I find particularly interesting, like this one, it hits high up on my reading list.
We know about the famine in North Korea in the 1990s from a statistical perspective, reading about the million starved who died that could have been avoided. But there isn’t a lot available for us to examine considering the closed off nature of the country. Lee is right there in the middle of this famine and living the reality, watching people’s faith in their government break as their loved ones die of starvation.
The story was heavily fixated on the life he had led as a street kid, fending for himself. It almost starts out “normal” for him, going to school, comfortable home with great potential for the future in academics until we begin to watch his world fall apart in a heartbreaking way.
I would have liked the story to go into greater detail about the “escape”, as that part seemed a little rushed. I kept waiting for that part of the story to happen (since, considering the book was published, you know it will).
Recommendation: Lee’s story is perfect for middle grade/ high school readers looking to understand the harsh reality of this country. There’s nothing too troubling or graphic present, but the rawness of his life really comes through in his piece.