When My Name Was Keoko by Linda Sue Park

May 15, 2012

This review reveals some important plot details. Read at your own risk... 

This book is about Japanese-occupied Korea during World War II. It was a side of World War II that I'd never thought much about (if ever?). It gives the perspectives of two siblings, a boy and a girl. I also liked learning more about the kamikaze.

Part-way through the book, I was convinced that Tae-yul (the brother) was going to die. Tae-yul's sections were always given in present tense while Sun-hee (the sister) always spoke in past tense. To me, this indicated that Tae-yul wasn't alive when the war was over, so he couldn't speak about it from a past point of view. Combined with the fact that the title of the book is "When My Name was Keoko" (which is Sun-hee's Japanese name), and I was sure that my theory was right.

Of course, I loved it that I was wrong because it made for such a happy and surprise reunion, but then I'm still confused why the author varied the voices in this way? Was she just using a simple method to make them sound different? If that's the case, that's really disappointing.

I was really grateful for the author's note at the back of the book. I felt like the end of the story really left some loose ends (particularly in regards to Uncle), but the author's note talks about how the Kim family probably wouldn't have been able to be reunited until maybe as late as the year 2000, what with Communism and the division of North and South Korea. This, of course, opens up a whole new topic that could have been explored in an entirely new book.

This review was written before the birth of this blog.

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