The Island of Sea Women

The Island of Sea Women

A Novel

Book - 2019
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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.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2019.
Edition: First Scribner hardcover edition.
Copyright Date: ©2019
ISBN: 9781501154850
1501154850
Branch Call Number: SEE L
Characteristics: v, 374 pages ; 24 cm

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betsymarzoni
Apr 11, 2019

A fascinating glimpse into a unique society and the women who comprise its backbone alongside a tale of friendship, betrayal, and eventual forgiveness.

j
Jersey_Girl
Apr 09, 2019

This book was 5 star wonderful! Such a true to life story about two girls who grow up on Jehu island off the coast of Korea. When they become old enough, they become divers. I can't remember the Korean word that says what they are. They dive down into the cold, dark ocean for seafood that is sold for money and eaten by them and their families. In the beginning, all of Korea is a possession of Japan. So when they sell their seafood, they pretty much get only a small percentage of the sale price. When they are old enough, they go to other countries as divers and earn more money. Some of the countries are China and Eastern Russia. The story follows the two girls friendships until one of them gets married before the other. Later, after the Japanese are defeated in WW2, the victors, America and Russia decide that Korea should become an independent nation. But Russia insists on dividing Korea in two, with them influencing what becomes North Korea and America influencing what becomes South Korea. You would think this would bring easier times to the two women, but Korea goes through MAJOR bad, bad times on their way to independence. While you are reading, remember that this book is based on true circumstances. There is an island called Jehu and it is known for it's diving women. Look it up on the internet. And put in the Korean word for the diving women into the internet also.

w
writermala
Apr 02, 2019

Lisa See has come up with another winner in "The Island of Sea Women." The book is set over generations in the island of Jeju in Korea. The story revolves around two young women, Mi-Ja and Young-sook who work together in their women's all-female diving collective. It is interesting to read about the matriarchal society which nevertheless values sons. The women respect the sea and as Young-sook's mother says, "The sea is better than a mother. You can love your mother, and she still might leave you. You can love or hate the sea, but it will always be there. Forever." This is a book about love, friendship, family, and work ethics and ties everything together really well. A must read.

m
mrsbarker
Mar 25, 2019

Absolutely outstanding historical novel. I had never heard of the sea women of Korea and found this book riveting. It is full of historical detail and information about this fascinating culture of women. It is a moving story of women and family but so much more. I read it over the space of two days and was sorry when it ended. After reading the last page and closing the book I cried for a while, overwhelmed by the suffering and hardships of these women. But I tell you what, they were/are some invincible, heroic and stoic humans. Wow. I had to put the rest of Lisa See's books on my reading list. I can't stop thinking about the characters in this book. Korea is an amazing country with an amazing history. (I also went on Google maps to look around the island of Jeju and found those black rock walls that feature so prominently in the book. Wow, loved the tour of the coastline on Google maps!)

ArapahoeKati Mar 12, 2019

If you liked the friendship in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and you love the ocean, pick this up. There are some incredibly sad parts and some beautiful descriptions of the haenyeo life and culture that will probably be gone in the next twenty years (UNESCO lists it as an intangible cultural heritage).

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