Today I have am ecstatic to share with you a review of The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See, now available from Scribner! I’m a HUGE fan of this author and have loved every book I’ve read from her.
Talk about a fascinating premise, and from Lisa See, one of my favorite authors? The Island of Sea Women is captivating historical fiction at its masterful best.
On the Korean island of Jeju, women do the work of diving, while the men take care of the children. Two girls, Mi-ja and Young-sook, are the best of friends waiting for their time to be old enough to join the diving collective. With their future career comes fun and excitement along with significant danger.
Mi-ja and Young-sook are from disparate backgrounds. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, which will forever leave a mark on her. Young-sook is destined to lead the divers of their village one day when she’s old enough, as her mother and grandmother have done.
This book spans decades, following Japanese colonialism of Korea in the 1930s and 40s, World War II, the Korean War, and the present day.
Forces external to these women will test their friendship. Will their forged bond be enough to keep them from splintering apart?
Who knew these women were living this way on a tiny Korean island? I was instantly enthralled with this story and could not get enough. The characters, in true Lisa See style, are richly developed, as is the alluring setting. The backdrop of events is heartbreaking and haunting.
These women are strong, fiercely so, indomitable of spirit, capable of leading their families through hardship and strife into healing and hope. The Island of Sea Women is truly an unforgettable, indelible read.
I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.
A new novel from Lisa See, the New York Times bestselling author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, about female friendship and family secrets on a small Korean island.
Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends that come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook’s mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility but also danger.
Despite their love for each other, Mi-ja and Young-sook’s differences are impossible to ignore. The Island of Sea Women is an epoch set over many decades, beginning during a period of Japanese colonialism in the 1930s and 1940s, followed by World War II, the Korean War and its aftermath, through the era of cell phones and wet suits for the women divers. Throughout this time, the residents of Jeju find themselves caught between warring empires. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator, and she will forever be marked by this association. Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother’s position leading the divers in their village. Little do the two friends know that after surviving hundreds of dives and developing the closest of bonds, forces outside their control will push their friendship to the breaking point.
This beautiful, thoughtful novel illuminates a world turned upside down, one where the women are in charge, engaging in dangerous physical work, and the men take care of the children. A classic Lisa See story—one of women’s friendships and the larger forces that shape them—The Island of Sea Women introduces readers to the fierce and unforgettable female divers of Jeju Island and the dramatic history that shaped their lives.
Have you read The Island of Sea Women, or is it on your TBR? Have you read any other books by Lisa See? Happy Reading! ~ Jennifer THR