Sunday, May 9, 2021

Review - Brother's Keeper by Julie Lee



 Title: Brother's Keeper

Author: Julie Lee

Pages: 320

Publisher: Holiday House

Release Date: 21st July 2020


 Blurb from Goodreads:

 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 war zone in winter?

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My Review:

*I received a eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Holiday House*

Sora lives in North Korea with her parents and her two younger brothers. Their lives are tightly regimented by the communist government, and doing anything forbidden or speaking out of turn can result in people being taken away and never being heard from again.

When war breaks out between North and South Korea, Sora and her family leave their home behind and head for the safety of Busan in South Korea. But when Sora and her brother become separated from the rest of their family, they must try to make their way to Busan without them.

Can they survive the hundreds of miles they need to travel to reach Busan, all while trying to keep warm, find food and shelter, and avoid enemy soldiers?

Going into this novel, I didn't know any details about the war between North and South Korea, so it was very eye-opening in that regard. I didn't realise how bad and awful a time it must have been for people, or how many people were affected. I didn't even know that America was involved in the war, so I clearly have a lot to learn about that time.

Sora was a likeable and relatable protagonist. She loved learning and going to school, but had to give it up to look after her brothers. Her relationship with her parents was interesting as they didn't always see eye to eye.

Sora's brother Youngsoo was quite sweet and likeable. I could tell how much he loved Sora.

The setting was interesting and unique - I hadn't read a book set in 1950s North Korea before. The fact that sons were treated as so much more important than daughters was very infuriating, and made me feel so sorry for Sora.

The story is one that is very personal to the author, and I thought they did a very good job with the way they handled such traumatic and heart-breaking scenes.

The plot was enjoyable (as much as a book about such events can be), but I did find the pacing a little slow at times, and I wasn't gripped by what happened. However, I still found this to be an enjoyable, unique and important read.

Overall, this was an enjoyable, unique and important read.

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