Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Tendrils of Life (2012)

Tendrils of Life: A Story of Love, Loss, and Survival in the Turmoil of the Korean War. Owen Choi. 2012. Princeton Falcon Press. 408 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Tendrils of Life is historical fiction set in Korea. Most of the story, though not all of the story, occurs during the early years of the Korean War, 1950-1953. Flashbacks. Tendrils of Life has plenty of flashbacks. These take readers back even further, several decades further in some cases. These flashbacks do place the "main story" into context. I will say that there were times I was confused, but, by the end, I saw how the pieces of the puzzle fit together and I understood, for the most part, WHY the flashbacks were so important to the overall story. It is a complex story. I won't lie. For those unfamiliar with the Korean War--like me--this one may prove challenging: not impossible, just challenging. I believe it seeks to provide some answers, some insight, into the war itself: the history and politics. Trying to explain a war is not ever easy, and, I appreciate the complexity of this one.

The characters. I felt all the characters had strengths and weaknesses. I felt they were human which is the best compliment I can give any author. Tendrils of Life is at best bittersweet, if I'm being honest, more bitter than sweet. It felt bleak, very bleak, but its an honest bleakness and not mere manipulation.

Tendrils of Life was a bit outside my comfort zone, but, I am so glad I read it.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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