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Trapped in an enemy tunnel, a young refugee experiences the Korean War firsthand in this searing story of survival, loss, and hope, a companion to the Freeman Award-winning novel Brother’s Keeper.
Myung-gi knows war is coming: War between North and South Korea. Life in communist North Korea has become more and more unbearable—there is no freedom of speech, movement, association, or thought—and his parents have been carefully planning the family’s escape.
But when his father is abducted by the secret police, all those plans fall apart. How can Myung-gi leave North Korea without his dad? Especially when he believes that the abduction was his fault?
Set during a cataclysmic war which shaped the world we know today, this is the story of one boy’s coming-of-age during a time when inhumanity, lawlessness, and terror reigned supreme. Myung-gi, his mother, and his twelve-year-old sister Yoomee do everything they can to protect one another. But gentle, quiet, bookish Myung-gi has plans to find his father at any cost—even if it means joining the army and being sent to the front lines, where his deepest fears await him.
A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
A Book Riot Best New Book of 2023
"An absolute must-read."—Booklist, starred review
"Vivid, powerful."—School Library Journal
"Searing. . . . Beautifully written."—Book Riot
About the Author
Julie Lee, a marketer-turned-writer, lives in an Atlanta suburb with her three children and her husband. A first-generation American, her mother escaped North Korea during the Korean War and later immigrated to the United States. Julie studied history at Cornell before working in advertising in Manhattan, eventually relocating to the South.
★ "A gripping story about family, war, mourning, and resilience told with emotion and heart."—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
★ "Once again, Lee brings readers to the beginnings of the North Korean Communist regime. Myung-gi is an intriguing main character. . . . This is an absolute must-read for those who have already read Brother’s Keeper and a heart-wrenching meditation on family bonds and the responsibilities they entail."—Booklist, Starred Review
"Lee’s vivid, visceral writing provides readers with an unflinching story of war and survival as well as an intimate look at everyday life for Koreans caught up in geo-political forces over which they have no control. Few books for young readers grapple with the Korean War from this perspective. . . ."—The Horn Book
"[A] vivid, powerful title. . . . The book vividly captures the disorientation and longing of a young man who finds himself cut off from his home, his family, and his dreams for the future."—School Library Journal
"[A] moving historical novel. . . . Lee compassionately depicts the difficult journey and Myung-gi’s grappling with finding normalcy in this well-paced story about an underreported war."—Publishers Weekly