Shelter by Jung Yun
I was so excited for this book when I first heard about it. This is a debut novel that sounded like it was going to address the Korean-American child experience with their Korean immigrant parents. This story follows Kyung Cho and his wife, Gillian, as their debts and bad decisions catch up with them and begin to threaten their livelihood. They live very close to Kyung’s parents, Jin and Mae, who gave Kyung everything they could’ve, but never showed a shred of kindness or love or patience. Seemingly out of the blue, a violent act towards Jin and Mae force them to move in with Kyung and Gillian, which also forces out the many issues that the family has bottled up over time.
In reading the synopsis for this, I was strangely excited for the opportunity to read about a struggle that I could partially relate to. My parents were much kinder and more loving growing up, however, we still had to learn the tricky balance that immigrant parents and their American-Born children typically need to learn. How does the family balance the importance of culture and the new culture that they live in? How does the child balance honoring where their ancestors come from and figure out making a new life for themselves? These are so many questions that don’t get addressed or represented in books, so I was excited for a Korean author to take a leap in addressing these issues in this debut novel. Warning: Spoilers ahead and trigger for abuse/rape.