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BOOK REVIEW: Shelter
by Jung Yun
ABOUT THE BOOK (fro’m Amazon):
You can never know what goes on behind closed doors.
One of The Millions’ Most Anticipated Books of the Year (Selected by Edan Lepucki)
Now BuzzFeed’s #1 Most Buzzed About Book of 2016
Kyung Cho is a young father burdened by a house he can’t afford. For years, he and his wife, Gillian, have lived beyond their means. Now their debts and bad decisions are catching up with them, and Kyung is anxious for his family’s future.
A few miles away, his parents, Jin and Mae, live in the town’s most exclusive neighborhood, surrounded by the material comforts that Kyung desires for his wife and son. Growing up, they gave him every possible advantage―private tutors, expensive hobbies―but they never showed him kindness. Kyung can hardly bear to see them now, much less ask for their help. Yet when an act of violence leaves Jin and Mae unable to live on their own, the dynamic suddenly changes, and he’s compelled to take them in. For the first time in years, the Chos find themselves living under the same roof. Tensions quickly mount as Kyung’s proximity to his parents forces old feelings of guilt and anger to the surface, along with a terrible and persistent question: how can he ever be a good husband, father, and son when he never knew affection as a child?
As Shelter veers swiftly toward its startling conclusion, Jung Yun leads us through dark and violent territory, where, unexpectedly, the Chos discover hope. Shelter is a masterfully crafted debut novel that asks what it means to provide for one’s family and, in answer, delivers a story as riveting as it is profound.
When an old friend of mine announced on Facebook a few months ago that his wife wrote a book and it was going to be published in March, I quickly added it to my “to read” list. I got even more excited to read it when I started seeing it everywhere — ads on Goodreads, posts by the New York Times. I’ve never met Jung Yun, but I felt a connection to her through her husband and was so thrilled for her. Writing a book takes a lot of hard work, and getting a work of fiction traditionally published is something to be extremely proud of! Congratulations Jung Yun!
Shelter is about Kyung Cho, a 36-year-old Korean American, and his family — his wealthy parents who came to the United States when he was just a young boy, his American wife and their four-year-old son. Kyung and his wife find themselves in a financial crisis, reluctantly considering going to his parents for help, when a violent crime suddenly interrupts their lives. The situation brings them all together and tears them all apart at the same time. I was absolutely blown away by this book!
Shelter touches eloquently on so many complicated subjects — interracial marriage, domestic violence, the impact of violent crime, religion, financial security, love and relationships (and probably several others that I’m missing!). The story is thought-provoking, heart-wrenching and absolutely beautiful! I highly recommend it. My only word of advice is to make sure you have plenty of time in your schedule when you start reading it because as soon as you start you won’t want to put it down.