Book review, Contemporary, South Korean writers

Please look after Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin (translated by Chi-Young Kim)

Review in 10 ish words: Deep and melancholic, utterly heartbreaking. Hug your mum. 4/5


Please look after Mom essentially tells the story of a family’s desperate search for their missing mother. So-Nyo becomes separated from her husband in the chaotic world of the Seoul Subway station and her children are all forced to reflect on their with relationship with their mother.

How well does anyone really know their mom?

My Thoughts:

The book was written in 2nd person which is not a style I usually read. It was a little jarring at first but after the initial chapters I actually feel the 2nd person added an element of intimacy that would have been missed otherwise. It lost me for parts of the book, and I know almost every creative writing course or book I’ve done has warned us to stay away from 2nd person- but this is an example where it is done pretty well.

‘Only after Mom went missing did you realize that her stories were piled inside you, in endless stacks. Mom’s everyday life used to go on in a repeating loop, without a break. Her everyday words, which you didn’t think deeply about and sometimes dismissed as useless when she was with you, awoke in your heart, creating tidal waves.”

I loved the multiple POVS to an extent- some characters POV I loved and looked forward to (So-Nyo or Chi-hon) whereas others I almost wanted to skip (Hyong-chol). The monologue style parts of the book where the character takes you into their thoughts were my favourite parts. The translation was also done really well and the writing flowed nicely. I also appreciated the author’s attention to detail for the mundane, the dozen little things we all do in a day that don’t always get recorded or addressed.

All in all I would recommend for anyone looking for the next ‘deep read.’ It is at its core a story of motherhood and the sacrifice and loss of identity that can sometimes come with that. If you love a good family drama, you’ll probably love this.

Content notes:

Mentions of miscarriage
Still birth
Alcohol abuse

Give your mom a hug

Mother’s day was this week and for the first time in a long time I couldn’t hug and see the ‘mum’s’ in my life.

I talk to my mum almost every day in some form. I love that we laugh during every phone call. I love how she gives me tours of her new plants and shows me changes she has made to the house. I love that she thinks to send me videos of my old house when she drives by it. I love that she sends me photos of her wearing clothes I left behind. I even kind of love that she makes me promise to come home and not decide to stay 😂

Most of all, I love that the connection I have with her hasn’t weakened since I moved away. I miss her and I wish I could hug her, but I know she is always a phone call away. I especially love that she made me brave enough to know I could turn my life upside down, quit my job and move overseas and it would all be okay.

When I can go home and visit I know that first hug will be worth the wait. And to anyone who couldn’t see their mum or if Mother’s Day was a bit rough for a different reason- I’m sending you a big hug. ❤️

Song pairing:

The Best Day – Taylor Swift

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