2010 Chunkster

The Surrendered – Chang-Rae Lee

When I saw that The Surrendered was being marketed as a cross between A Fine Balance and The Poisonwood Bible I knew I had to read a copy. I think that the comparisons are justified, but The Surrendered is much easier to read and not quite as good.

The Surrendered begins in Korea in 1950, telling the story of how June Han escaped from the war-torn country. This initial section was easily a 5 star read for me. I was instantly drawn into the June’s world and my heart broke as I read about the things see had to endure. I had a little tear in my eye as these 30 amazing pages drew to a close.

She let go his still-warm hand, kissed his still-warm face. She stayed with him as long as she could. But when the last car of the train passed her she rose to her feet and steadied herself. And then she ran for her life.

Unfortunately the book went downhill slightly after that. The focus switched to June’s life in 1980s New York, which in comparison to her childhood in Korea was a bit dull. I was craving a return to the fascinating, roller-coaster of life I’d already been treated to. There was nothing really wrong with this modern section – it just didn’t have the atmosphere or historical insight of the first section; it was the type of story I had read many times before.

The book does flip back to Korea and we travel across to Europe with June as she searches for her son, but I never found the magic produced in the first chapter again.

I highly recommend that you read the first chapter of this book, but the remaining 400+ pages aren’t that special.

The Thoughts of Other Bloggers:

…while I recommend Lee’s writing, I feel this book is definitely for the stout of heart. Shelf Life

a very deep and thought-provoking novel. Serendipitous Readings

 Have you read any books written by Chang-Rae Lee?