If you read the excerpt from Brandon Jones‘ debut novel All Woman and Springtime in our Spring Must Read post, you’ve probably been counting down the days until you could read the rest of the book. This spellbinding debut, reminiscent of Memoirs of a Geisha, depicts—with chilling accuracy—the suffering behind today’s North Korean iron curtain and the horrific world of human trafficking. Alice Walker called it “one of the most absorbing, chilling, beautifully written, and important novels I’ve read in many years” and we hope you’ll think so as well.
Check out more of the great reviews below, as well as a first chapter excerpt.
About the book
Before she met Il-sun in an orphanage, Gi was a hollow husk of a girl, broken from growing up in one of North Korea’s forced-labor camps. A mathematical genius, she has learned to cope with pain by retreating into a realm of numbers and calculations, an escape from both the past and present. Gi becomes enamored of the brash and radiant Il-sun, a friend she describes as “all woman and springtime.” But Il-sun’s pursuit of a better life imperils both girls when her suitor spirits them across the Demilitarized Zone and sells them as sex workers, first in South Korea and then in the United States.
For Gi and Il-sun, forced into the underworld of human trafficking, their captivity outside North Korea is far crueler than the tight control of their “Dear Leader.” Tenderhearted Gi, just on the verge of womanhood, is consigned to a fate that threatens not only her body but her mind. How she and Il-sun endure, how they find a path to healing, is what drives this absorbing and exquisite novel—from an exciting young Algonquin discovery—to its perfectly imagined conclusion.
Praise for All Woman and Springtime
“[A] terrifying and masterfully realized debut . . . One of its most impressive achievements is the rendering of main character Gi, who is brought powerfully and beautifully to life . . . Jones depicts both the innocence of his protagonist and the pathologies and violence of the South Korean underworld with great skill and emotional power. VERDICT Impossible to put down, this work is important reading for anyone who cares about the power of literature to engage the world and speak its often frightening truths.” —Library Journal
“A compelling psychological tour of life inside the socially and politically restrictive borders of North Korea via the poignant stories of two young girls on the cusp of womanhood . . . This tale of female friendship is distinguished by its illuminating glimpse into the arcane intricacies of both an ancient and a modern culture. Guaranteed to appeal to fans of Memoirs of a Geisha (1997) and the novels of Lisa See.”—Booklist
“Dramatic . . . [A] well-paced story.”—Publishers Weekly
“One of the most absorbing, chilling, beautifully written, and important novels I’ve read in many years.”
“All Woman and Springtime is a lovely novel brimming with heartache and hope in equal measure. Jones has a gift for empathy as well as a keen sense of justice. This book will open your eyes, break your heart, and then mend it again.” —Tayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow