cover image Everything Belongs to Us

Everything Belongs to Us

Yoojin Grace Wuertz. Random House, $27 (368p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9854-2

Wuertz’s memorable debut takes place in 1978 Seoul and follows four university students—two boys, two girls—as they work and fumble their way through a school year of camaraderie and betrayal. The girls—Namin, a serious student seen as her poor family’s one hope at financial success, and Jisun, her wealthy childhood pal bent on becoming a labor activist—find their friendship in flux as they begin drifting down separate paths toward adulthood. Their story lines bring them in contact with Sunam, a charming student struggling to find his spot on the social ladder, and Juno, a more experienced boy sponsoring Sunam as a pledge to the university social club, the Circle. Juno desires Jisun, who eschews his interest, and Sunam and Namin become a romantic item after meeting at a party held by the Circle. But it isn’t long before Namin’s studies and family life—an American GI impregnates her older sister—pulls her away from Sunam’s affection, and he begins spending more time with the seductive Jisun. Wuertz crafts a story with delicious scenes and plot threads, perceptively showing the push and pull of relationships in a strictly mannered society. (Feb.)