website statistics The Mermaid from Jeju - PDF Books Online
Hot Best Seller

The Mermaid from Jeju

Availability: Ready to download

In the tradition of Yangsze Choo's Night Tiger and Min Jin Lee's Pachinko comes a magical saga that explores what it really means to love. In the aftermath of World War II, Goh Junja is a girl just coming into her own. She is the latest successful deep sea diver in a family of strong haenyeo. Confident she is a woman now, Junja urges her mother to allow her to make the Goh In the tradition of Yangsze Choo's Night Tiger and Min Jin Lee's Pachinko comes a magical saga that explores what it really means to love. In the aftermath of World War II, Goh Junja is a girl just coming into her own. She is the latest successful deep sea diver in a family of strong haenyeo. Confident she is a woman now, Junja urges her mother to allow her to make the Goh family's annual trip to Mt. Halla, where they trade abalone and other sea delicacies for pork. Junja, a sea village girl, has never been to the mountains, where it smells like mushrooms and earth, and it is there she falls in love with a mountain boy Yang Suwol, who rescues her after a particularly harrowing journey. But when Junja returns one day later, it is just in time to see her mother take her last breath, beaten by the waves during a dive she was taking in Junja's place. Spiraling in grief, Junja sees her younger siblings sent to live with their estranged father, Suwol is gone, the ghost of her mother haunts their home--from the meticulously tended herb garden that has now begun to sprout weeds, to the field where their bed sheets are beaten. She has only her grandmother and herself. But the world moves on without Junja. The political climate is perilous. Still reeling from Japan's forced withdrawal from the peninsula, Korea is forced to accommodate the rapid establishment of US troops, and her grandmother, who lived through the Japanese invasion that led to Korea's occupation understands the signs of danger all too well. When Suwol is arrested for working with and harboring communists, and the perils of post-WWII overtake her homelands, Junja must learn to navigate a tumultuous world unlike anything she's ever known.


Compare

In the tradition of Yangsze Choo's Night Tiger and Min Jin Lee's Pachinko comes a magical saga that explores what it really means to love. In the aftermath of World War II, Goh Junja is a girl just coming into her own. She is the latest successful deep sea diver in a family of strong haenyeo. Confident she is a woman now, Junja urges her mother to allow her to make the Goh In the tradition of Yangsze Choo's Night Tiger and Min Jin Lee's Pachinko comes a magical saga that explores what it really means to love. In the aftermath of World War II, Goh Junja is a girl just coming into her own. She is the latest successful deep sea diver in a family of strong haenyeo. Confident she is a woman now, Junja urges her mother to allow her to make the Goh family's annual trip to Mt. Halla, where they trade abalone and other sea delicacies for pork. Junja, a sea village girl, has never been to the mountains, where it smells like mushrooms and earth, and it is there she falls in love with a mountain boy Yang Suwol, who rescues her after a particularly harrowing journey. But when Junja returns one day later, it is just in time to see her mother take her last breath, beaten by the waves during a dive she was taking in Junja's place. Spiraling in grief, Junja sees her younger siblings sent to live with their estranged father, Suwol is gone, the ghost of her mother haunts their home--from the meticulously tended herb garden that has now begun to sprout weeds, to the field where their bed sheets are beaten. She has only her grandmother and herself. But the world moves on without Junja. The political climate is perilous. Still reeling from Japan's forced withdrawal from the peninsula, Korea is forced to accommodate the rapid establishment of US troops, and her grandmother, who lived through the Japanese invasion that led to Korea's occupation understands the signs of danger all too well. When Suwol is arrested for working with and harboring communists, and the perils of post-WWII overtake her homelands, Junja must learn to navigate a tumultuous world unlike anything she's ever known.

30 review for The Mermaid from Jeju

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jessica | JustReadingJess

    I loved how unique The Mermaid from Jeju is. Junja is a very interesting and complex character. Hahn did a great job expressing Junja’s emotions. The past and present storylines were interesting. The reader learns more about Jeju from the present day through her husband’s perspective when he visits Jeju Island. Junja’s grandmother is a very important character. She is strict and has strong ideals. She also believes in magic and the power of dreams. This was my first book reading about Korea post I loved how unique The Mermaid from Jeju is. Junja is a very interesting and complex character. Hahn did a great job expressing Junja’s emotions. The past and present storylines were interesting. The reader learns more about Jeju from the present day through her husband’s perspective when he visits Jeju Island. Junja’s grandmother is a very important character. She is strict and has strong ideals. She also believes in magic and the power of dreams. This was my first book reading about Korea post World War II which was an interesting time period. The Mermaid from Jeju was original and beautifully written. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Cindy Kay and Raymond Lee and thought they did a good job. Thank you Alcove Press, Crooked Lane Books, Dreamscape Media, Libro.fm and NetGalley for The Mermaid from Jeju. Full Review: https://justreadingjess.wordpress.com...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Desiree

    Simply stated: The Mermaid from Jeju is down-right magical book. Set part in present day America and part in postwar Korea, it is equal parts history lesson and fairy tale. Beautifully rendered, with language that sweeps you away to the little island of Jeju, you find yourself longing to visit the isle and its naturally rugged beauty of the past. The book is told in two parts, with Part One being told mostly from the point of view of our leading lady Junja. The reader becomes so absorbed in the r Simply stated: The Mermaid from Jeju is down-right magical book. Set part in present day America and part in postwar Korea, it is equal parts history lesson and fairy tale. Beautifully rendered, with language that sweeps you away to the little island of Jeju, you find yourself longing to visit the isle and its naturally rugged beauty of the past. The book is told in two parts, with Part One being told mostly from the point of view of our leading lady Junja. The reader becomes so absorbed in the rich story telling that when reaching Part Two, which switches gears to Junja’s husband’s point of view, it is almost disorienting. But author Sumi Hahn deftly weaves the two halves of the novel together like fine embroidery, gently looping and back-stitching and connecting each character and piece of the story together into a mesmerizing tapestry. A rock-solid debut that portends amazing things to come from Ms. Hahn. Highly-recommended, this novel is a great choice for book club readers – a tale so deeply atmospheric that it will linger well after it’s finished, much in the vein David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars. The Mermaid of Jeju is available December 8th in hardcover or Kindle, and audio CD from Alcove Press, a recently-launched imprint of Crooked Lane Books that specializes in book club fiction. A big thank you to Sumi Hahn, Alcove Press, and NetGalley for providing a complimentary Advance Reader Copy in exchange for this honest review. #TheMermaidFromJeju #AlcovePress #CrookedLaneBooks #NetGalley

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    What a journey this book was! This is the story of Junja, a haenyeo (an elite group of female deep sea divers) who lives on the Korean island of Jeju. It has a little of everything - action, suspense, magic, but above all - love. I was sucked in from the first chapter and how wonderful it was to have such a good book in my hands that I was sad when it became too late to finish reading. I felt for all the characters, especially Peanut. If you enjoy historical fiction, Asian history, Korean cultur What a journey this book was! This is the story of Junja, a haenyeo (an elite group of female deep sea divers) who lives on the Korean island of Jeju. It has a little of everything - action, suspense, magic, but above all - love. I was sucked in from the first chapter and how wonderful it was to have such a good book in my hands that I was sad when it became too late to finish reading. I felt for all the characters, especially Peanut. If you enjoy historical fiction, Asian history, Korean culture, or just a great story, check this one out. You won't regret it and you'll even learn some Korean! Now I'm off to go learn more about the haenyeo. Thank you NetGalley and Crooked Lane Boss for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    2.5 stars The first time I saw this beautiful cover on Goodreads, I was instantly curious about this book and when I saw the audiobook on Netgalley, I knew it was the perfect chance to find out what this book was about. In it, you'll follow a girl named Junja after World War II. It's set in the Jeju island off the coast of South Korea. However, this book is set in the past but also in the present. I wish I could say I fell in love with this story but unfortunately, I feel like I wasn't smart enou 2.5 stars The first time I saw this beautiful cover on Goodreads, I was instantly curious about this book and when I saw the audiobook on Netgalley, I knew it was the perfect chance to find out what this book was about. In it, you'll follow a girl named Junja after World War II. It's set in the Jeju island off the coast of South Korea. However, this book is set in the past but also in the present. I wish I could say I fell in love with this story but unfortunately, I feel like I wasn't smart enough for it and that my mind didn't always understood what was going on. I was lost most of the time but it's a me problem and not a book problem... I really wanted to love this one but ultimately, my enjoyment wasn't there. (Thank you for letting me read and review an ARC via Netgalley)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Brooke || FindingMyFavoriteBook

    What a magical post WWII story of bravery, love, loss, and redemption, set among the beautiful landscape of Jeju Island off the coast of South Korea during a very tumultuous time in Jeju’s history. A story of a brave haenyeo girl and a rebel native she meets on Hallasan Mountain. Having previously loved The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See and being somewhat familiar with this conflict, I was anxious to read this story. I was not disappointed! An amazing 5 stars for this beautifully woven mystic t What a magical post WWII story of bravery, love, loss, and redemption, set among the beautiful landscape of Jeju Island off the coast of South Korea during a very tumultuous time in Jeju’s history. A story of a brave haenyeo girl and a rebel native she meets on Hallasan Mountain. Having previously loved The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See and being somewhat familiar with this conflict, I was anxious to read this story. I was not disappointed! An amazing 5 stars for this beautifully woven mystic tale! *Special thank you to NetGalley, Alcove Press, and Sumi Hahn for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!*

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alexanderia

    This book had me from beginning to end. The middle and end had me holding my breath and on the edge of my seat. I learned not only some new Korean terms, thanks to the definitions at the back of the book, but also a little history and insight into these amazing Haenyeo women. I had a little knowledge of these amazing divers as a close friend’s mother was one of them, but this book really brought these women to life for me in a new way. It wasn’t just about these women divers, but about their str This book had me from beginning to end. The middle and end had me holding my breath and on the edge of my seat. I learned not only some new Korean terms, thanks to the definitions at the back of the book, but also a little history and insight into these amazing Haenyeo women. I had a little knowledge of these amazing divers as a close friend’s mother was one of them, but this book really brought these women to life for me in a new way. It wasn’t just about these women divers, but about their strength to take care of their own and survive. The hardships Korea faced after World War II were stories I don’t know and this book brought them to life. I felt for these characters, even as they are fictional they felt very real. I enjoyed reading about their gods and how they pray, give offerings, and honor their deceased. Korea has so many wonderful stories and the author did a fantastic job weaving them throughout. I was hungry for more books about Haenyeo women, Korean history, and above all kimbop. This wasn’t a funny story but uplifting in a different way. It took me out of my own life and on an adventure somewhere else with different food, scenery, and faith.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Alissa Middendorf

    This riveting, heartfelt tale captures a history often left out of western history books - Korea 1948. Though this is a tale about a mermaid from Jeju, it is not solely focused on the the haeneyo or Jeju mermaids. I was pleasantly surprised to see where Sumi Hahn took the story and I could not put this book down! Great character development and I enjoyed the poetic details of Korea - even adding incredible details about the food and culture that made me feel like I was almost there. I'm a histor This riveting, heartfelt tale captures a history often left out of western history books - Korea 1948. Though this is a tale about a mermaid from Jeju, it is not solely focused on the the haeneyo or Jeju mermaids. I was pleasantly surprised to see where Sumi Hahn took the story and I could not put this book down! Great character development and I enjoyed the poetic details of Korea - even adding incredible details about the food and culture that made me feel like I was almost there. I'm a historical fiction nerd who has spent time traveling Korea so I really appreciated learning more about the history of the area and the realities the people faced post war. This was an incredibly eye opening account of the loyalty and determination of the people of Korea and the power of love spanning decades, oceans, and spiritual worlds. I really hope to read more poetic tales from Sumi Hahn soon and will be recommending this to all my fellow historical fiction friends. Thank you for an advance reader's copy.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Megan Rivera

    This was a great book that mixes war with mermaids. Wondering if a mermaid can fall in love with a human. It was interesting to see how Goh Junja and Yang Suwol relationship unfold in this story.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Maureen Caupp

    Thank you to Sumi Hahn, the publisher and Edelweiss + for a copy of this book. A wonderfully told story filled with both the beauty and harshness of the traditional way of life on Jeju Island in the first half of the 20th century and the brutality of the uprising on Jeju in 1948. During the uprising a significant portion of the islands population was killed and many more had to flee in order to survive. The book mostly focuses on Junja's life, relationships, changing circumstances, and her fight Thank you to Sumi Hahn, the publisher and Edelweiss + for a copy of this book. A wonderfully told story filled with both the beauty and harshness of the traditional way of life on Jeju Island in the first half of the 20th century and the brutality of the uprising on Jeju in 1948. During the uprising a significant portion of the islands population was killed and many more had to flee in order to survive. The book mostly focuses on Junja's life, relationships, changing circumstances, and her fight to survive and love, it does depict some instances based on the violence of the massacre, so I have to warn of violence. However this book is also about the determination to survive, people willing to risk their own lives to try to save others, love, and the spirits of Jeju. Sumi Hahn has a way with words, weaving a powerful, captivating story with lyrical voice and magic. I highly recommend this book especially if you were fascinated by the Island of Sea Women by Lisa See!

  10. 5 out of 5

    beth • blissandbooks

    This story was so beautiful, set on the Korean island of Jeju during the Japanese and American occupation in the 1940’s. I loved the atmospheric prose and the magical realism aspects of this one. I took off a star because half way through the POV switches and it had me a little confused but other than that I loved this one!

  11. 4 out of 5

    mindful.librarian ☀️

    (audio review copy from Libro.fm) I feel like my opinion of this book was completely influenced by my love of the book “The Island of Sea Women” by Lisa See. I saw “mermaid” and “Jeju” and wanted to read another book about the haenyeo of Jeju! After reading See’s book I did a major nonfiction deep dive (I’m sorry I couldn’t help it ) into the topic and was so fascinated. Okay, now to THIS book. I listened to it and liked the female narrator, but not the male. I was all in on the story for the fir (audio review copy from Libro.fm) I feel like my opinion of this book was completely influenced by my love of the book “The Island of Sea Women” by Lisa See. I saw “mermaid” and “Jeju” and wanted to read another book about the haenyeo of Jeju! After reading See’s book I did a major nonfiction deep dive (I’m sorry I couldn’t help it ) into the topic and was so fascinated. Okay, now to THIS book. I listened to it and liked the female narrator, but not the male. I was all in on the story for the first 75%, despite it not actually being about haenyeo besides as a background item. And then. And then for me it all fell completely apart and I got lost listening and also couldn’t make myself care about any of the ghost and shaman stuff. I just felt like there were two books in the author’s head and they didn’t get meshed together well enough - I want the right ending for the first part of the book! The author’s note tells why she went where she did, but I feel better editing could have brought it all together in a more satisfying and logical way. There are lots of books out there about Korea, many many more than I’ve ever read and there are many people more suited to recommend them than I am. However, two I enjoyed more than this one are Pachinko and The Island of Sea Women.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sara Jo

    One of the most beautifully written tales I’ve ever read. It’s heartbreaking, yet lyrical and masterfully done. I easily pictured everything described as if it were playing like a movie in my mind. The women were unapologetically strong and the men equal in respecting them. I eagerly hope to read more from this author. I was provided with an ARC of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    4.5 stars. I loved this book. Highly recommended, especially for fans of Pachinko (I personally liked this book better!). This book was a 5-star read until Part 2- definitely weaker than part 1 unfortunately, but still good because Part 1 was spectacular. I absolutely loved the main character Junja and her family, and the island of Jeju was described so beautifully. A really beautiful and sad story highlighting a tragic part of history that more people should know about. 4.5 stars. I loved this book. Highly recommended, especially for fans of Pachinko (I personally liked this book better!). This book was a 5-star read until Part 2- definitely weaker than part 1 unfortunately, but still good because Part 1 was spectacular. I absolutely loved the main character Junja and her family, and the island of Jeju was described so beautifully. A really beautiful and sad story highlighting a tragic part of history that more people should know about.

  14. 4 out of 5

    ♥Milica♥

    Junja is an eighteen year old haenyeo (free diving superwoman, honestly) who grew up on Jeju island collecting seaweed and shells. During her first trip up the mountain she meets a boy called Suwol, and it's clear he's going to become her first love. On her way back down she's rushed home to find her mother on her death bed, due to an "unfortunate diving accident". Forced to become the head of the family, Junja loses some of her spark and doesn't even dream anymore. Not even Suwol can help. And Junja is an eighteen year old haenyeo (free diving superwoman, honestly) who grew up on Jeju island collecting seaweed and shells. During her first trip up the mountain she meets a boy called Suwol, and it's clear he's going to become her first love. On her way back down she's rushed home to find her mother on her death bed, due to an "unfortunate diving accident". Forced to become the head of the family, Junja loses some of her spark and doesn't even dream anymore. Not even Suwol can help. And the war may be over in technical terms, but one occupier just made way for the next. American soldiers are out hunting "Communists" and, as always, civilians suffer, among them many mountain villages and Suwol's own family. Will Junja survive and make it out of Jeju or will the darkness swallow her whole? The story is told in two parts, the first following Junja with very few future (2001) chapters sprinkled here and there. The second almost exclusively follows her husband and children (to a lesser extent). The transition between the parts left me feeling a little empty. It's as if the best part was cut off and barely even mentioned in the next. Junja's husband just isn't that interesting. While we're at it, I'm not sure how wise a choice it was to let the reader know who she marries from the get go. A lot more pain (even though there's no shortage of it) could've been caused if that was left for the end. The writing was extremely beautiful and the plot was as well. It made me cry non stop. The characters were very vivid and I couldn't dislike anyone apart from the obvious bad guys. My favourite is Peanut, her fate is a little unclear but I'm choosing to believe she and her family got away. Two other interesting characters are the Grandmother and Constable Lee, both are more than they seem. The ending was also a bit confusing, too blended...I think there was more room to expand on everything and a dozen or so more pages wouldn't have done the book any harm. Still, it's a good book, amazing debut and something everyone should have on their shelves. *Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review*

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    An absolutely beautiful historical fiction that is so wonderfully written and moving. The story starts with the women of Jeju that work as divers in the sea in a matriarchal society and follows the story of one family in particular. I love the way the writer doesn't explain everything and the reader has to work to join the dots at times between the characters. The descriptions are fantastically detailed and I really would like a Jeju recipe book after all those food descriptions! I also learnt a lo An absolutely beautiful historical fiction that is so wonderfully written and moving. The story starts with the women of Jeju that work as divers in the sea in a matriarchal society and follows the story of one family in particular. I love the way the writer doesn't explain everything and the reader has to work to join the dots at times between the characters. The descriptions are fantastically detailed and I really would like a Jeju recipe book after all those food descriptions! I also learnt a lot of new things and have looked up the historical incidents featured in the book that to my shame I had no idea about. We learn about WW2 and the Korean war at school in the UK but the focus is on ourselves and Europe. It was fascinating to learn about these people and their culture and gods that were caught up in conflicts amongst other nations. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Aashna Moorjani

    Where to begin with this book? Reading it was an emotional roller coaster of the truest sense. I smiled, I laughed, I cried, and since I finished the book, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I believe the reason for this is two fold. 1) Hahn's prose. Hahn writing style is vivid, almost atmospheric. The best analogy I can come up with is that her writing reminds me of yoga meditation videos in that they manage to completely immerse you in their worlds, so deep that you don't even real Where to begin with this book? Reading it was an emotional roller coaster of the truest sense. I smiled, I laughed, I cried, and since I finished the book, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. I believe the reason for this is two fold. 1) Hahn's prose. Hahn writing style is vivid, almost atmospheric. The best analogy I can come up with is that her writing reminds me of yoga meditation videos in that they manage to completely immerse you in their worlds, so deep that you don't even realize you're in a world other than the one you were previously in. 2) The historical setting. Admittedly, I don't know much about the aftermath of WWII, much less the aftermath in Korea. In history classes, that period has often been glossed over, jumping straight into the Vietnam War. Reading this book was enlightening about the state of the world at that time and has inspired me to learn about the period more through my own research. In that sense, this book managed to create a new world that FELT real to me, while still touching on problems I can connect to the "real" world I live in when I'm not reading. It's that balance between fantasy and realism that makes this book a standout. If you haven't read it, you should. It's unlike anything you've read before.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    *This book was received as an Advanced Reviewer's Copy from NetGalley. The Mermaid from Jeju isn't a fantasy novel. Instead, it's historical fiction, telling the tale of one of the divers from Jeju and her involvement during the aftermath of the war. Interspersed with legends, it follows through dual timelines that have her present as a teenager and her husband reliving his past in the future. Junja I liked as a character. While she was still young and naive about most of the world around her, she *This book was received as an Advanced Reviewer's Copy from NetGalley. The Mermaid from Jeju isn't a fantasy novel. Instead, it's historical fiction, telling the tale of one of the divers from Jeju and her involvement during the aftermath of the war. Interspersed with legends, it follows through dual timelines that have her present as a teenager and her husband reliving his past in the future. Junja I liked as a character. While she was still young and naive about most of the world around her, she tried to do what was right for her family. Her grandmother too was interesting, and I would dare say a stronger personality than she herself. The other part of the book, from her husband's eyes, was not quite as strong, although he was living in memory, he seemed to be a more timid person throughout his entire life. Really, the standout character was Lee; probably the bravest and cleverest, he and Junja's grandmother's intrigues were what caught my attention in this book. I admit, I did not like the dual timelines in this one. It made the book disjointed and hard to follow at times, because I was trying to reconcile what I was learning in both with the other. And then there were just a lot of parts left out. like Junja's life in between her diving and her husband's recollections of her in America. I think there was probably a lot of character development there that was missed out on. The ending too, I re-read several times just to understand what was happened and when it merged into legend I was left feeling like I still didn't quite understand the resolution. I don't know that I'm saying this should have been a longer book; but I think there was a lot that was crammed into here and could have been explored further to leave it feeling more complete. Nice premise, subject matter, and some intriguing characters; but a little too all over the place for me. Review by M. Reynard 2020

  18. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    I have so many feelings after reading this book that I think it will not be easy to write a clear review. Don’t get me wrong, the story is amazing and intense, but so vivid that it makes you wonder what type of world we are creating for our children, full of monsters and pain. Why? I’ll admit that I don’t know much about Korea’s past, it had always been for me a country too far to study at school or to feel related to their history. This has changed for the last few months, it’s a country that ha I have so many feelings after reading this book that I think it will not be easy to write a clear review. Don’t get me wrong, the story is amazing and intense, but so vivid that it makes you wonder what type of world we are creating for our children, full of monsters and pain. Why? I’ll admit that I don’t know much about Korea’s past, it had always been for me a country too far to study at school or to feel related to their history. This has changed for the last few months, it’s a country that has fought for their freedom again and again, with multiple loses and pain, but has survived. This book tries to make the reader more interested in a country we don’t know much, but that we all should value and respect, they have gained it. This is the story of a Haenyŏ, a mermaid from Jeju, how she left the country she loved to survive a war and never returned. Yes, this is not a happy book, but it is in a special way; it’s about family, love, war and survival. All of these elements are so skilfully combined in the story that is difficult to talk about one without relating it to the others. Don’t be scared to read something that will make change your feelings/emotions toward the world, sometimes is the best way to change everything; between real facts, legends and love this is the book that will possibly change your life. Ready?

  19. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    4.5! Absolutely loved The Mermaid of Jeju! Annnnnd this is a debut novel! *applauds* It has been a very long time since I got the feeling of not wanting a book to end. I was captivated by Junja and her family, the historical fiction aspect of post WW2 in Korea and these strong, badass mermaid, haenyeo women- "worth two men". Beautifully written and heartbreaking, The Mermaid from Jeju highlights a tragic part in history not known to many but yet will stick with you long after you've finished read 4.5! Absolutely loved The Mermaid of Jeju! Annnnnd this is a debut novel! *applauds* It has been a very long time since I got the feeling of not wanting a book to end. I was captivated by Junja and her family, the historical fiction aspect of post WW2 in Korea and these strong, badass mermaid, haenyeo women- "worth two men". Beautifully written and heartbreaking, The Mermaid from Jeju highlights a tragic part in history not known to many but yet will stick with you long after you've finished read it. This was a solid 5 start until part two where I lost my momentum but still enjoyed every chapter. Overall, a definite recommend as this novel combines so much into only 304 pages. Its a love story with lessons of finding happiness in the little thing and features themes such as strength, healing and empowerment. Thank you Alcove Press through Netgalley for approving my request to read The Mermaid of Jeju in exchange for an honest review.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sookie

    A strong debut novel from very impressive Sumi Hahn, comes a story about young woman who dives deep into the sea to retrieve the treasures it offers. Junja, our main protagonist is a hard working girl who lives with her grandmother for most part of her young life. Set during times when Korea was brink of war born out of different ideologies, Junja finds herself between oceans and mountains, between rebellious teens and gentle soldiers. Its a love story, story about strength and perseverance, abo A strong debut novel from very impressive Sumi Hahn, comes a story about young woman who dives deep into the sea to retrieve the treasures it offers. Junja, our main protagonist is a hard working girl who lives with her grandmother for most part of her young life. Set during times when Korea was brink of war born out of different ideologies, Junja finds herself between oceans and mountains, between rebellious teens and gentle soldiers. Its a love story, story about strength and perseverance, about ideology and finding contentment in the way we live. Split into two parts, the first part of the story is told from Junja's perspective and the second is from her husband. The dichotomy of this is blatant and Sumi Hahn does a decent job of keeping the momentum though its obvious that its the voice of Junja, the mermaid, that wins over and is the strongest of the two. The second part is about the onset of Korean war and how things really change for the protagonists; the pain, the change and the suffering that come with it. The mermaid from Jeju is indeed an interesting historical fiction providing an insular look into the times of the Korean divide. Thank you to Netgalley and Alcove Press for providing me with a free copy of this e-book in exchange for an honest review.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alicia M

    This novel sucked me in from the very beginning, and left me gasping for breath by the end. The Mermaid from Jeju is a story about Goh Junja, one of the haenyeo on the island of Jeju. Set in 1948, within the perilous political climate following WWII, The Mermaid From Jeju is a hauntingly beautiful tale, and one I would recommend to anyone. I will admit, I'm woefully uneducated about traditional Korean cultural and history, but this book was fascinating and educating at the same time. Everything This novel sucked me in from the very beginning, and left me gasping for breath by the end. The Mermaid from Jeju is a story about Goh Junja, one of the haenyeo on the island of Jeju. Set in 1948, within the perilous political climate following WWII, The Mermaid From Jeju is a hauntingly beautiful tale, and one I would recommend to anyone. I will admit, I'm woefully uneducated about traditional Korean cultural and history, but this book was fascinating and educating at the same time. Everything from the beautiful descriptions, harsh political reality and the multi-faceted characters drew me in. I was rooting for Junja from the very start, until the very end. I sobbed just as hard as swooned while reading this novel . I loved not only Suwol and Junja, but all the side characters as well - Peanut captured my heart and will not let it go. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially fans of historical fiction. Thank you to Netgalley and Alcove Press for giving me the opportunity to read this novel, and thank you to Sumi Hahn for writing such a masterpiece.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    I give this book a 4.5. For those who have read Lisa See's The Island of Sea Women, you'll be familiar with the haeneyo, the women who are deep sea divers in Korea. But, this is a very different story. Told in two parts, divided between post-WW2 Korea and present-day United States, we learn about Junja, a young girl who has become a successful haeneyo, following in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother. She convinces her mother to allow her to make the annual trip to trade abalone for a pig I give this book a 4.5. For those who have read Lisa See's The Island of Sea Women, you'll be familiar with the haeneyo, the women who are deep sea divers in Korea. But, this is a very different story. Told in two parts, divided between post-WW2 Korea and present-day United States, we learn about Junja, a young girl who has become a successful haeneyo, following in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother. She convinces her mother to allow her to make the annual trip to trade abalone for a piglet, and while she's gone she discovers a new, wealthier world and falls in love with Suwol. When she returns home, she finds her mother dying after a diving accident, and she falls into deep mourning. But, her grandmother has other plans for her besides letting her sink into her grief forever, and when Suwol is arrested for harboring communists, Junja has to act. The second part of this book deals with Junja's husband coping with her death (which we learn about right at the beginning of the book,) while being haunted by ghosts of the past. He makes a pilgrimage back to Korea to try to regain some control and say goodbye. I loved the magical realism elements in this book. That the gods and ghosts and superstitions were just taken as absolute truth made it more interesting. It was especially interesting later in the book when we find that Junja later embraces Christianity, and I would have liked to see that develop a bit more, in terms of how she balanced her past beliefs with her future ones. I really enjoyed learning more about the history of Korea, especially following WW2 as everything was changing and dividing. I really liked the female characters in this book, especially Junja's grandmother. Some of her background his alluded to, and it was nice to see a strong, smart female character who successfully balances her beliefs and customs with a changing and oftentimes violent world where she manages to fight for a positive change. And, I liked how Junja seemed to be aware of this, even without knowing all the backstory. And I really liked the sisters who owned the restaurant, and I appreciated how they were tied in later in the book instead of just disappearing as side characters. On the other hand, the men were just eh and came off as more two-dimensional than the women. I also had a bit of trouble when switching between Part One and Part Two of this book. It felt like an airbag deployed in the switch between the two stories. And while they did come together well in the end, I think I would have liked a Part 1.5 to learn more about their lives in the middle. Perhaps a later book could explore some of that? Overall, though, I really enjoyed this book. It is beautifully written. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review It has not influenced my opinion.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anika

    According to the Ancient Greeks, five rivers flow through the land of the dead, and the most famous of these is Lethe, whose waters, when drunk, cause forgetfulness.  The same cannot be said for the waters that flow through the afterlife of Sumi Hahn's sad tale, The Mermaid from Jeju, named for Jeju, the South Korean island where it's set. The imagery of the sea returns like the tide again and again: the idea of the titular 'mermaid' is based on the haenyeo, Korean female divers who earned their According to the Ancient Greeks, five rivers flow through the land of the dead, and the most famous of these is Lethe, whose waters, when drunk, cause forgetfulness.  The same cannot be said for the waters that flow through the afterlife of Sumi Hahn's sad tale, The Mermaid from Jeju, named for Jeju, the South Korean island where it's set. The imagery of the sea returns like the tide again and again: the idea of the titular 'mermaid' is based on the haenyeo, Korean female divers who earned their own income and supported their families by harvesting abalone and seaweed from the waves. In the ocean's deeper waters, death is merely one of many currents. The women leave offerings at an underwater shrine, said to be for the sea god, but the outcome of doing so is never guaranteed. Near the story's end, a character finds herself "outside the world", in the afterlife. She walks a path up a familiar mountain. Her hair grows and tangles with the branches. When she bends to drink from a stream, she remembers "who she was," and the waters restore her girlhood. By this point, the story has faded quietly and sweetly into a triumph that perhaps only myths allow. Much like Korea, cut in half by the 38th parallel, this novel feels like it has two distinct halves. In the first, a young Korean woman and man fall in love against the backdrop of the Jeju Uprising, a rebellion that was brutally and violently repressed by Korea's military dictators. As violence unfolds around them and whole villages are burned or put to the sword, the couple's families prepare a wedding feast. You ache for the lovers in advance, suspecting already that this story will not allow them to eat it. Eventually, the woman flees to mainland Korea, where she lives "only to ache." From there, she goes even further, to the United States, where she eschews the elemental gods of her Korean upbringing in favor of a strict communal Christianity and regular English lessons. She has two daughters who don't understand the past, for whose sake she suppresses the annual pain she feels when snowflakes fall and remind her of her flight. In the midst of confrontations with these daughters, she reminds her husband "the fault wasn't their daughter, but the language she spoke, which lacked modesty and manners." Unable to describe to them her life as a haenyeo, or the gentle feeling of waves like "caresses from the god of the sea," she tells them instead that she was once a mermaid. The second half of the novel belongs to the ghosts born in the first half. The (now widowed) husband makes his way back to Jeju. The unpaved roads and small villages are gone, replaced by roads and resorts. Jeju, a site of so much weeping that the waters could have turned to solid salt, is now a honeymoon destination. Such is progress. But the husband can't quite relax into the honeymoon he clearly never had. He is plagued by the voices of the past - the people he and his wife left behind when fleeing the destruction of their homes. In order to calm his ghosts, he seeks out a shaman, who performs a ritual that lifts him into the realm of fantasy. "The work of healing…must start with forgiveness first," one of his friends tells him. Many of the people in this half of the novel are in search of peace, but first they must pass through forgiveness. Under the shaman's gentle but insistent pressure, ghosts rise from the resting places to which they were banished by war, graves often unmarked and unremembered, and dance towards freedom and joy. The gods of mountain and sea are awakened and honored, if only briefly. It's a devastating tale, not least because it so honestly shows the deep trauma left by an incident that has been almost erased from history: for fifty years, it was apparently a crime to even mention the Jeju Uprising in Korea. From 1948–1950, as many as 100,000 people (many of them innocent citizens) may have been murdered by police and other authorized military forces who raped, executed and torched entire villages as part of an attempt to wipe out an ostensible communist rebellion. This incident happened partly under the so-called supervision of the United States.  But this novel largely eschews grand political statements in favor of examining personal outcomes. "Truth is, boys, there are no good guys in war," says one of the rebels to two disillusioned Nationalist troops who have been shipped to Jeju. This point arrives early in the novel's chronology but halfway through its body, its bleak knowledge dividing the story's halves. While the rebel's statement may be philosophically true, and it explains the character's clear-eyed resistance, it also lets the government off the hook. (South Korea's president would eventually apologize for the murders of Jeju civilians -but in 2006). Bolstered by this dubious non-pep-talk, the troops find their way to their own quiet rebellion. This story illustrates the gap between survival and success, between life and afterlife. It demonstrates, also, why we cleave to the gods of our ancestors even when they appear to fail us. Denied the fruits of her wedding feast in life, the main character tastes the fruit of the afterlife, and remembers "the lives she lived before and the lives that were yet to come." For all people, but especially for people scarred by war, death is another form of continuity.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Allison Speakmon

    Set in both 1943 and in 2001; and in the United States and on the island of Jeju, Korea; The Mermaid of Jeju is a wonderful story of resilience, family tradition, and love. A big ★★★★★ for Sumi Hahn’s debut novel. I loved so many things about this book. I loved the characters, who were complex and relatable (personality wise). I loved the Korean mythology and cultural references. I loved the love stories. I particularly loved the way Hahn wrote this book with such lyrical writing but also rooted Set in both 1943 and in 2001; and in the United States and on the island of Jeju, Korea; The Mermaid of Jeju is a wonderful story of resilience, family tradition, and love. A big ★★★★★ for Sumi Hahn’s debut novel. I loved so many things about this book. I loved the characters, who were complex and relatable (personality wise). I loved the Korean mythology and cultural references. I loved the love stories. I particularly loved the way Hahn wrote this book with such lyrical writing but also rooted in deep Korean traditions. If you loved The Night Tiger (which I did and have a full review HERE), then this The Mermaid from Jeju is perfect for you. While the book is filled with less magical realism, the story Hahn has put together is just as magical. I had dreams multiple nights in a row of visiting this beautiful island. Told in two parts, the story telling is vibrant and rich. In part one we follow our main character Junja, as she comes of age during post World War II, when the Americans were taking over control from the Japanese. We watch her fall in love, lose loved ones, and fight to survive. Part two is told from her husband’s point of view. In this half of the book we learn how the two met but really how they wove their lives from broken threads and how family never truly leaves you. I’m not going to do this review justice, so I’ll just say that this a fabulous debut, and I’m highly anticipated additional novels from Sumi Hahn. This would be a great book to read as part of a book club, as there are so many aspects to discuss. Huge praise for this lovely historical fiction. I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on The Mermaid from Jeju. If you liked this review please let me know either by commenting below or by visiting my instagram @speakingof_books. Huge thank you to Crooked Lane Books for my advanced reader copy. All opinions are my own.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Susan Ballard

    4.5 / 5 🌟 Sumi Hahn writes an unforgettable saga that honors the lives of the haenyeo. These are women who braved the waters of Jeju, an island near South Korea, to free-dive for seafood and seaweed. While the story spans from 1944 to 2001, it is shocking when we learn of Junja’s death in the opening chapters. But we are taken back over the journey of Junja’s life, as she had once told her daughters, “Here is a secret: Long long time ago, when I was a girl, I was a mermaid, too.” The Mermaid from 4.5 / 5 🌟 Sumi Hahn writes an unforgettable saga that honors the lives of the haenyeo. These are women who braved the waters of Jeju, an island near South Korea, to free-dive for seafood and seaweed. While the story spans from 1944 to 2001, it is shocking when we learn of Junja’s death in the opening chapters. But we are taken back over the journey of Junja’s life, as she had once told her daughters, “Here is a secret: Long long time ago, when I was a girl, I was a mermaid, too.” The Mermaid from Jeju is not only the extraordinary story of Junja’s family, strong women who work in the sea and revere the gods, myths, and ancient magic. It also tells of the unpredictable political climate the Korean Peninsula faced at the time, from the Japanese invasion to the US occupation, during which no one could be trusted. As a young woman, Junja, meets and falls in love with a young scholar, Suwol, only to have tragedy tear them apart. Eventually, Junja marries Dr. Moon and they leave the hardships of Korea and settle in the United States. After Junja’s death, Dr. Moon returns to Korea, for there are ghosts and secrets that must be given their peace. Hahn does a wonderful job weaving together the story not just from the historical perspective, but politically and socially as well. She adds beautiful imagery and details for a truly captivating experience. Thank you to @librofm and @dreamscape_media for this #ALC for review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Szasza

    I just finished reading a beautiful written book by a new korean author. The novel switches from the present to the past and we learn Junja's story as a young girl, Junja's past life during the start of the Korean American War as she navigates the unexpected death of her mother, She is the eldest daughter and a powerful deep sea divers, one of the famous divers of Jeju Island. The second part of this novel set into the present, starting with Junja's untimely passing. In this part we learn the sto I just finished reading a beautiful written book by a new korean author. The novel switches from the present to the past and we learn Junja's story as a young girl, Junja's past life during the start of the Korean American War as she navigates the unexpected death of her mother, She is the eldest daughter and a powerful deep sea divers, one of the famous divers of Jeju Island. The second part of this novel set into the present, starting with Junja's untimely passing. In this part we learn the story of Junja Goh at the end of her life in America, her husband (Dr. Moon) and two daughters are mourning her, preparing her funeral. After the funeral her husband started to haunted not only by her ghosts but by his own past and as he tries to calm his life, he decides to return to South Korea and Jeju Island. This part It mostly focuses on her husband, and his own reckoning as a Nationalist soldier during the Korean American War. It's a good written book, if you love historical fiction with magic and folklore this book definitely for you

  27. 5 out of 5

    Elena L.

    [3.5/5 stars] Shifting between present days and postwar Korea, THE MERMAID FROM JEJU revolves around Goh Junja, a haenyeo of Jeju Island. The story is told in two parts - part one follows Junja's perspective and part two, her husband’s point of view. Filled with rich storytelling about haenyeo's tale and Junja's family, in part one, I couldn't help falling in love with Junja and the matriarchal society. Junja is young, innocent yet strong and with other haenyeo, they provide for their family as de [3.5/5 stars] Shifting between present days and postwar Korea, THE MERMAID FROM JEJU revolves around Goh Junja, a haenyeo of Jeju Island. The story is told in two parts - part one follows Junja's perspective and part two, her husband’s point of view. Filled with rich storytelling about haenyeo's tale and Junja's family, in part one, I couldn't help falling in love with Junja and the matriarchal society. Junja is young, innocent yet strong and with other haenyeo, they provide for their family as deep sea divers. Their trust in each other and strength are truly inspiring. While I really enjoyed the main character, I was more interested in her grandmother's mysterious past and also thought that she was a more impactful character. However, the story isn't solely focused on haenyeo. Mainly in part two, Hahn paints vivid pictures of the madness of war which there are often grey grounds about the right side (either the Japanese or American occupation had its lasting effects in Korea history) and how several acts are justified in this context. I really enjoyed the details about Korean food and culture plus Hahn's writing style was immersive. Furthermore, a few parts towards the end were emotional. Unfortunately some points didn't work for me - the dual timeline felt a bit disjointed and hard to follow at times. There were some things that I would've liked to see more resolved (the ending) or deeply explored (some characters such as Lee, Suwol, grandmother and plot development) - this is a case that I was craving more pages. I didn't understand the ending at first and it can be discussed. To sum up, THE MERMAID FROM JEJU gathers a bit of everything: magic, mystery, history and action. It is a great exploration of love, loss, courage and redemption. Whether you enjoy historical fiction or Korean culture/history, this book is recommended. [ I received an ARC from the publisher - Alcove Press/ Crooked Lane Books- in exchange for an honest review ]

  28. 4 out of 5

    KarenK

    I received this from Netgalley.com. "Inspired by the true event on Korea's Jeju Island in 1948. Junja must learn to navigate a tumultuous world unlike anything she's ever known." Like so many books are these days, this is written in dual timelines. I found the older timeline more compelling than the newer, but it is a quick read. 2.75☆ I received this from Netgalley.com. "Inspired by the true event on Korea's Jeju Island in 1948. Junja must learn to navigate a tumultuous world unlike anything she's ever known." Like so many books are these days, this is written in dual timelines. I found the older timeline more compelling than the newer, but it is a quick read. 2.75☆

  29. 5 out of 5

    Najiyah

    Magical, poetic, warming, heart wrenching. The story is so unique and cleverly laces together the two settings. Also makes me realise how much world history is ignored by the British education system

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Park Rhode

    4.5 Straightforward and not. I learned more about Jeju and the factions pre Korean War. I looooove the haenyeo as a concept, but I don’t actually know that much about them. The summary does not feel accurate to the atmosphere of the book

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.