Everything Belongs To Us by Yoojin Grace Wuertz: A Review
In Everything Belongs to Us, Sunam, Jisun and Namin are college students in South Korea. Sunam is trying to climb the social ladder while Namin wants to become a doctor. Jisun just wants to get back at her rich father, which she does by working for underground political groups and protesting in marches. Even though Namin comes from a poor family, one where her parents both work at food stands and her sister works as a factory girl, she and Jisun have been friends since middle school. At a party hosted by Jisun's brother, the president of "the Circle", the social club that Sunam wishes to break into, Namin and Sunam meet each other and begin a relationship. The three young adults struggle in their search for balance between their individual needs and their responsibilities to family, some so more than others.
The characters in this novel could have been a lot more developed. They were enjoyable but were also very one-dimensional, too. My favorite character was Namin, as Sunam and Jisun came off as a bit spoiled (with Jisun coming off very spoiled) and unkind. Namin seemed to be the most genuine but this may have just been a personal preference. I would have just liked to have seen some changes in personalities as the book progressed and some honesty in the characters. Namin seems to be so giving and kind that she doesn't seem to fight for herself enough. She makes some attempts but seems to be overly concerned with the needs of others. We can't always give without receiving and I would have liked to see that honesty in her thoughts in the novel.
I wish that the background of the political climate in South Korea was less of a background and more of a main theme. There was one part where a political meeting was held in furious whispers that showed the frustration and the fear of the workers. It was so haunting but, yet, so beautiful and I wish there were more parts like that in this book.
The writing was superb. It read very easily but could also seem somewhat poetic, at times. The story is a sad one but I believe it to be an important one because of the political back story. I did enjoy this book and I would recommend it to any reader that enjoys novels that take place during political revolutions or changes and to those who enjoy cultural fiction, in general.
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