The Island of Sea Women

The Island of Sea Women

A Novel

Book - 2019
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On the Korean island of Jeju, Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls from very different backgrounds, begin working in the sea with their village's all-female diving collective. Over many decades—through the Japanese colonialism of the 1930s and 1940s, World War II, the Korean War, and the era of cellphones and wet suits for the women divers—Mi-ja and Young-sook develop the closest of bonds. Nevertheless, their differences are impossible to ignore: Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, forever marking her, and Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother's position leading the divers. After hundreds of dives and years of friendship, forces outside their control will push their relationship to the breaking point.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2019
ISBN: 9781501154850
9781501154867
Characteristics: 374 p. ; 24 cm

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wmtlady
Oct 21, 2019

This is a great story (no surprise) from Lisa See, but the historical events of WWII as related from the perspective of a native of Jeju Island (long taken control by Korea) astounded me. I am now searching for other accounts from non-U.S. sources covering WWII to the Korean War that will reveal what was actually happening.

STPL_STEPHANIE Sep 11, 2019

When I read the synopsis for this book, I was immediately interested. I was totally thrilled, but not at all surprised, when I discovered that Lisa See is also the author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, which I absolutely loved. Her writing doesn't disappoint. This far reaching tale covers decades in the lives of the people of Jeju Island. You will travel with Young-sook and her best friend Mi-ja through time and space as you learn about their family, friends and way of life in this matri-focal society. Young-sook and Mi-ja are complex characters who face tough decisions that will have far reaching consequences for many people. I found great value in reading the Afterword for this historical fiction book.

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MargeBanks
Sep 10, 2019

Mary Ellen

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becker
Aug 25, 2019

This takes place on Jeju Island, South Korea. It is a wonderful cultural story but even more interesting from a historical viewpoint.

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sykutney
Aug 05, 2019

This was another amazing book by Lisa See. The author is a great researcher and a captivating storyteller. I learned so much about the culture and customs of the haenyeo, and she weaves such an interesting story of lives of the women. I love to read great literature that both engages me and teaches me about the world - this book was a great read!

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oomaaa
Aug 03, 2019

deeply researched, historically grounded, deals with big themes like revenge, forgiveness, subjugation, misogyny, women's strength, colonialism. good plot, lots of local color. a rewarding read!

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Bookworm2228
Jul 11, 2019

4 stars. Lisa See writes interesting books and this was no exception. Set on the Korean island of Jeju, we meet two young girls Mi-ja and Young-sook who begin learning how to be haenyeo, members of the island's all female diving co-operative. The two girls come from very different backgrounds but become best friends. At the time they met, Jeju had been under the rule of the Japanese and the book follows the girls through the Second World War and afterwards. The girls go through so much together and are tested over and over again by circumstances. The friendship is fractured and the women endure a long period where they were estranged. It was interesting reading about the culture of the island, distinct from that of Korea proper and what they endured. I also found the culture of the haenyeo very interesting. Very much set up on matriarchic lines, it was also interesting to hear how the women thought of the men in their lives. An interesting read all in all.

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lpreston214
Jun 30, 2019

Lyrical story of deep friendship between two girls growing up on Jeju Island in Korea. They become divers and providers for their families in a matriarchal society. Horrific incidents (based in fact) occur on the island after WWII and a rift develops between the women. Later, the reader finds out how the two remain linked. A powerful story of survival, tragedy, forgiveness and redemption.

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beckydrake71
Jun 23, 2019

I'm a huge Lisa See fan and this book sounded fantastic...unfortunately I'm returning it after reading about 200 pages. I just couldn't get into it...it's soooo extremely slow and no plot has yet to develop. The writing seems completely different than all her others as well....super disappointed :(

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zcch55
Jun 17, 2019

Yes to all of the above! Quite enjoyed learning about the sea women and their many struggles.
There are other “sea peoples” around Asia including men. What a hard way to live.

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