Set in both 1943 and in 2001; and in the United States and on the island of Jeju, Korea; The Mermaid of Jeju is a wonderful story of resilience, family tradition, and love. A big ★★★★★ for Sumi Hahn’s debut novel.
I loved so many things about this book. I loved the characters, who were complex and relatable (personality wise). I loved the Korean mythology and cultural references. I loved the love stories. I particularly loved the way Hahn wrote this book with such lyrical writing but also rooted in deep Korean traditions.
If you loved The Night Tiger (which I did and have a full review HERE), then this The Mermaid from Jeju is perfect for you. While the book is filled with less magical realism, the story Hahn has put together is just as magical. I had dreams multiple nights in a row of visiting this beautiful island.
Told in two parts, the story telling is vibrant and rich. In part one we follow our main character Junja, as she comes of age during post World War II, when the Americans were taking over control from the Japanese. We watch her fall in love, lose loved ones, and fight to survive. Part two is told from her husband’s point of view. In this half of the book we learn how the two met but really how they wove their lives from broken threads and how family never truely leaves you.
I’m not going to do this review justice, so I’ll just say that this a fabulous debut, and I’m highly anticipated additional novels from Sumi Hahn. This would be a great book to read as part of a book club, as there are so many aspects to discuss. Huge praise for this lovely historical fiction.
I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on The Mermaid from Jeju. If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof_books. Huge thank you to Crooked Lane Books for my advanced reader copy. All opinions are my own.