Brother's Keeper
Brother's Keeper

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Annotation: Can two children escape North Korea on their own? North Korea. December, 1950. Twelve-year-old Sora and her family live ... more
Catalog Number: #219756
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Hot Title Hot Title
Publisher: Holiday House
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Pages: 304
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: Publisher: 0-8234-4494-5 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-8436-3
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-8234-4494-6 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-8436-8
Dewey: Fic
Language: English
Reviews:
Kirkus Reviews
Sora is 12 when she and her younger brother trek hundreds of miles to safety during the Korean War.In the summer of 1950, the 38th parallel is closing, separating North and South Korea. Those caught in the northern part of the country will live under a Communist regime, full of harsh regulations, limited freedoms, and indoctrination. The novel, told in three parts, begins as the Pak family finally decides to escape to Busan, a city on the ocean at the southern tip of the peninsula—370 miles away. Almost immediately, Sora and 8-year-old Youngsoo are separated from their parents. Basing her story in part on her mother’s own experiences in North Korea, debut author Lee paints this gripping and emotional midwinter escape with the eye of a wartime journalist and the determined heart of a young girl. As Youngsoo weakens from hunger and sickness, Sora carries him for the rest of their journey, across frozen rivers and through dangerous cities, past the front line. Flashbacks to her family’s experiences during the Japanese occupation of Korea provide Sora strength and comfort and provide additional context for readers. Sora struggles against the Korean cultural norms of male supremacy, the low status of girls clear from her mother’s constant verbal abuse. Still, she rises.A journey of wartime survival parallels the strength Sora needs to fight for her own dreams. (author’s note, photographs, glossary, maps, timeline) (Historical fiction. 8-12)
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 37 A harrowing, heartbreaking tale of hope, love, and survival against insurmountable odds. Twelve-year-old Sora and her family live under the oppressive North Korean communist regime of 1950. As the South Korean army begins to lose ground to the Red Army, hope of liberation dwindles. Sora's stubborn, overbearing mother believes the family should keep their heads down and obey the law. But her father knows that their family's nonconformist political and religious beliefs mean they will never be safe, and convinces the family to flee south to Busan where his brother lives. Whip-smart Sora hopes that Busan will provide freedom from her mother's restrictive expectations of her as a woman and enable her to return to school. The family embarks upon the long journey by foot, but are separated in a sudden aerial bombardment. Sora and her eight-year-old brother Youngsoo must now attempt to complete the journey alone in hopes of reuniting with their family. They face threats at every turnthe elements, other people, lack of resources, and illnessbut their strength carries them even as Youngsoo becomes ill. With an artful and expressive narrative voice, and inspiration drawn from her mother's experiences in Korea as a young woman, debut novelist Lee enthralls and enlightens. VERDICT A surefire recommendation all around, this title will be of particular interest to readers seeking excellent historical fiction, survival stories, family drama, or a good tearjerker. Librarians and teachers should be aware that a character suffers a protracted illness and then dies from pneumonia. Darla Salva Cruz, Suffolk Cooperative Lib. Syst., Bellport, NY
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Sora is 12 when she and her younger brother trek hundreds of miles to safety during the Korean War.In the summer of 1950, the 38th parallel is closing, separating North and South Korea. Those caught in the northern part of the country will live under a Communist regime, full of harsh regulations, limited freedoms, and indoctrination. The novel, told in three parts, begins as the Pak family finally decides to escape to Busan, a city on the ocean at the southern tip of the peninsula—370 miles away. Almost immediately, Sora and 8-year-old Youngsoo are separated from their parents. Basing her story in part on her mother’s own experiences in North Korea, debut author Lee paints this gripping and emotional midwinter escape with the eye of a wartime journalist and the determined heart of a young girl. As Youngsoo weakens from hunger and sickness, Sora carries him for the rest of their journey, across frozen rivers and through dangerous cities, past the front line. Flashbacks to her family’s experiences during the Japanese occupation of Korea provide Sora strength and comfort and provide additional context for readers. Sora struggles against the Korean cultural norms of male supremacy, the low status of girls clear from her mother’s constant verbal abuse. Still, she rises.A journey of wartime survival parallels the strength Sora needs to fight for her own dreams. (author’s note, photographs, glossary, maps, timeline) (Historical fiction. 8-12)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Life in North Korea for 12-year-old Sora and her family has been hard since the Russians "liberated" it from Japanese rule. Enticed by tales of their grandfather who had lived in America, Sora and her younger brother, Youngsoo, dream of living away from the rigid controls and brainwashing of the Communist regime. When war erupts, Sora's family flees toward the freedom of South Korea. But soon, she and Youngsoo become separated from their parents, who are seemingly killed in an explosion. Sora and her brother continue their journey alone to Busan on the southern coast of South Korea, which is still in American hands. To make it, they must avoid capture, scramble for food, and rely on the kindness of other refugees. Through her journey, Sora transforms from a precocious girl into a courageous and intelligent hero. Lee captures Sora's internal journey alongside the physical one, and in the process details the struggles of a refugee from the ground level. Even after Sora arrives at her destination, her battles do not end, as she still must combat the social norms that deny her agency simply for being female. An amazing debut and an important book that explores a part of history few younger readers are taught in school.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (6/1/20)
ALA Notable Book For Children (6/1/20)
ALA Notable Video (6/1/20)
ALA/YALSA Best Book For Young Adults (6/1/20)
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (6/1/20)
Reading Level: 4.0
Interest Level: 3-6

Can two children escape North Korea on their own?

North Korea. December, 1950.

Twelve-year-old Sora and her family live under an iron set of rules: No travel without a permit. No criticism of the government. No absences from Communist meetings. Wear red. Hang pictures of the Great Leader. Don't trust your neighbors. Don't speak your mind. You are being watched.

But war is coming, war between North and South Korea, between the Soviets and the Americans. War causes chaos--and war is the perfect time to escape. The plan is simple: Sora and her family will walk hundreds of miles to the South Korean city of Busan from their tiny mountain village. They just need to avoid napalm, frostbite, border guards, and enemy soldiers.

But they can't. And when an incendiary bombing changes everything, Sora and her little brother Young will have to get to Busan on their own. Can a twelve-year-old girl and her eight-year-old brother survive three hundred miles of warzone in winter?

Haunting, timely, and beautiful, this harrowing novel from a searing new talent offers readers a glimpse into a vanished time and a closed nation.

A Junior Library Guild Selection


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