The Kinship of Secrets by Eugenia Kim – A book review

Oct 19, 20202 comments

I love reading about history and historical fiction. I knew I would like The Kinship of Secrets based on the summary. But I was excited because I almost knew nothing about Korean history and I actually wanted to. Did The Kinship of Secrets by Eugenia Kim fulfill the promise? Read on to know more.

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About the book

Cover Kinship of Secrets by Eugenia Kim

Book Name: The Kinship of Secrets

Author: Eugenia Kim

Genre: Fiction – Drama, Literary, historical

Characters: Calvin, Najin, Miran and Inja Cho, Halmeoni, Harabeoji,

Setting: South Korea, Washington DC, The United States of America

Plot Summary

Just a short while after the World War II and the subsequent freedom from Japanese annexation, Najin and Calvin Cho move from Korea to the USA on the lookout for better prospective.

With a plan to return within two years, they take only their eldest daughter Miran with them, leaving the youngest Inja in the care of her aging parents and Najin’s brother.

Unexpectedly, the Korean War breaks out making it almost impossible for a reunion in the near future. Miran grows in an American suburbia, under the guilt and pressures of being the chosen one, while Inja’s problems are much bigger living in a war torn country with scanty resources.

When they finally get to meet after a decade and a half, would there still be a chance to family despite the horde of secrets between them? Would the years passed matter or just the familial bonds good enough form the rest of the story in The Kinship of Secrets by Eugenia Kim.

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Book review

I was not sure what to expect when I picked the book and frankly it took me a while to get into the story. But about 30 pages in, I was completely sucked in. The alternating narratives between the sisters worked very well in this case as did the straight forward narrative.

Kim ensures the reader can trace the disparity between the two girls and the parallel worlds they live in. I adored the much more simplistic life of Inja and her devoted love towards her uncle, despite the dire circumstances they faced.

And Miran always knew that she had a privileged life and bore the brunt of it. She feels like an outsider in her own house when they all speak Korean and grows up watching the packages sent to Korea.

I am usually “heartless” when it comes to fictional characters, but somehow the plight of the young girls made me sob like a baby. And the credit goes to the author for that.

The Kinship of Secrets was an emotional read with compelling characters that are quintessentially Asian. I was surprised to see the many similarities between the traditions and yesteryear’s habits (as heard from family) of Korea and India. The importance of family and putting others first seem to be a common thread.

The Kinship of Secrets is inspired by a true story, so do not miss out on the Author’s note at the end of the book. I am looking forward to reading her other book, The Calligrapher’s Daughter.

What worked for me

  • The alternating narratives works well and shows the contrast between the lives of the sisters.
  • I loved the author’s writing style and it invoked so many emotions in me. She also made reading the Korean history more fun.
  • Knowing that The Kinship of Secrets was inspired by true events made it all the more interesting.
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What may have been better

  • I felt the pre-adolescent chapters could have been shorter.

Bottom line

The Kinship of Secrets by Eugenia Kim is a poignant tale about sisterhood, family and secrets that keep them all together. If you are interested in an emotional read with lots of Korean history, you won’t be disappointed with this one.

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Let’s chat

Have you read The Kinship of Secrets by Eugenia Kim? What other books that have moved you to tears? Can you recommend some books set in a war background? Let us talk.

2 Comments

  1. MRIDULA GUPTA

    Oh, I quite enjoyed this book. Wonderful themes

    Reply
    • Gayathri

      I am glad you did too!

      Reply

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Hello there!

Gayathri loves reading, recommending books and talking about bookish things in real life. Her blog is just an extension of that habit. When she is not reading books or creating online content, she freelances as a beta reader. She lives currently in Dubai.Head over to meet me

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