Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea

Sungju Lee and Susan Elizabeth McClelland. Amulet, $16.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4197-2132-8
This affecting memoir starts slowly but gains momentum as it highlights a boy’s survival and eventual escape from North Korea. The narrative begins with a brief history of 20th-century Korea that helps establish context. Lee enjoyed a privileged childhood in Pyongyang as the son of a respected military officer until his fate changed abruptly at age 10, when his family left for an extended “holiday” in a northern sea town where his parents were forced to work as laborers. Writing with McClelland (Stars Between the Sun and Moon), Lee effectively describes his own trusting ignorance and how he began to understand the dire state of their exile. The strongest section recounts Lee’s harrowing life on the streets as he banded together with friends, stealing, begging, borrowing, and fighting to subsist (“Maybe everything had been taken from us, but we still had our word, and that meant something”); deadening their pain with alcohol, smoke, and opium; and mourning lost friends. A testament to resilience, Lee’s story pulls back the curtain on life in North Korea. Ages 13–up. Agent: Al Zuckerman, Writers House. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/18/2016
Release date: 09/13/2016
Genre: Children's
MP3 CD - 978-1-5159-6010-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-5159-1010-7
Hardcover - 978-1-61312-340-9
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