The Mermaid From Jeju

The Mermaid From Jeju

A Novel

Book - 2020
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A talented young deep-sea diver from occupied 1948 Korea's neighboring Jeju Island visits Mt. Halla for her family's annual trading trip before her romance with a mountain youth is upended by family tragedy and political turbulence.
Publisher: New York : Alcove Press, 2020
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781643854403
Branch Call Number: F Hah


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KCLS_JessicaML Apr 06, 2021

Review by Spencer, 11th grade, Issaquah Library:

Sami Hahn’s debut novel The Mermaid of Jeju is a historical fiction set in 1948
Korea. It tells the story of Jenja who is a diver from Jeju. When she goes to the
mountain for trade she meets Suwol and promptly falls in love. But, once she returns
from the mountain the book evolves into a story of hardship and war.
At the start of the book, Sumi Hahn provides a small amount of history giving
some context. I found that this helped me stay engaged as I often find myself looking up
what happened when reading historical fiction. She also starts the book with a
flash-forward, and in Part Two brings them back more regularly. The flash-forwards
were as well written as the rest of the novel but, I found them to take me out of the story
as they took place after Jenjas's death in 2001.
The prose in this book is outstanding. It is a phenomenal mix of poetry and grit
that grounds you in the setting and leaves you dreaming of Jeju and wanting more. The
way Sumi Hahn described the setting opened a portal to Jeju and made the whole book
seem magical.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. The prose
was artful, the plot engaging, and the cover art perfectly set the tone of the novel. I
enjoyed the historical context that the start of the book provided, and the
flashes-forward while not my favorite thing, were well done. I look forward to reading
any of the author's future books.

Feb 16, 2021

A compelling novel, mixing actual history together with a family in post-WWII Korea. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to those who wish to know more about Korea's past.

IndyPL_MarianneK Jan 25, 2021

Engrossing and beautiful, but ended too abruptly for me. The story alternates from the present to the past on a forgotten island and a forgotten livelihood during the forgotten war. Not as devastating as Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, but equally an emotional ride.


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