The Kinship of Secrets by Eugenia Kim – A book review

The Kinship of Secrets by Eugenia Kim – A book review

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.

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. Click To Tweet

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.

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.

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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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.

The Kinship of Secrets by Eugenia Kim – A book review

The Vegetarian: Book Review

I read The Vegetarian a while ago as a part of the A-Z challenge 2018 and yet I couldn’t post a review as soon as I would usually. I can blame my erratic blogging schedule but the truth is The Vegetarian by Han Kang left me so confused and perplexed that I had to step back and mull over what to say. 

Watch out for my 100th review!

Yet I can’t think of a better fitting book that I have read in the recent times than The Vegetarian to be my 100th review on my blog. Yes, you heard it right. This would be my ONE HUNDREDTH review on this blog. 

elgeewrites The Vegetarian: Book Review Yippe 1

About the book

elgeewrites The Vegetarian: Book Review 1 Veg

Book Name: The Vegetarian

Author: Han Kang

Genre: Fiction – Modern Classic, Literary,

Characters: Yeong-Hye, Mr. Cheong, Kim In-Hye

Setting: Seoul, South Korea


The Vegetarian talks of how cultural and societal norms make or break a person’s individuality and define one’s perspective. The Vegetarian consists of three parts Yeong-Hye’s past, present and future, from the perspectives of her husband, her brother in law and her sister Kim In-Hye. 

In a country where meat is a staple food, Yeong-Hye stops eating meat, a reaction to the bloody nightmares that she had been facing every night. Until then a passive and unassuming wife, Yeong’s decision is criticized by everyone in the family including her father who even tries to force feed her some meat. 

My initial thoughts

The more I read, the more intriguing (bizarre, even?) the book became. And given that it is such a short book, I finished it fairly fast, even when I had to re-read some parts to make sure ‘that’ really happened. Let us get on with the review, shall we?

The Vegetarian is the winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2016 among many other awards. If this had gone by my usual luck with award books, I would have been bored by about 20% of the book and still be compelling myself to continue to struggle to the end. WELL, THAT DID NOT HAPPEN. 

Just like that Yeong turns from ordinary, according to her abusive and shallow husband Mr. Cheong, to aberrant. What follows is the aftermath of her decision (to be become a The Vegetarian, rather a vegan) and how her family reacts to it. Watch out, The Vegetarian is not an easy read. It will make you question your fundamental assumptions. 

The Vegetarian is on the surface a parable on how far can one go to stay put on one’s belief. 

But it talks more about the sexism and status of women in a patriarchal society like Korea and other South Asian countries in a pliable and compliant role. The men in Yeong’s life, and thus the novel, are all disgusting in one form or the other and maybe that played a part in her decision to change her life into a ‘plant like’ being. 


If you want to read something that has a simple yet lyrical writing, yet will make you think about your judgmental self you should pick The Vegetarian by Han Kang. But be wary of triggering content – like sexual and physical  assaults, extra marital affairs and mental illness. You won’t be disappointed.

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Have you read this book earlier? Does this book depict life in South Korea? Are there any other books set in South Korea that you have read? What books have you read this week?