All Woman and Springtime Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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“A gripping novel.”—O, The Oprah Magazine
“The North Korean government exploits its citizens completely and absolutely, and Brandon W. Jones has taken this as a starting point for a first novel that seems more like the polished work of an experienced novelist . . . Jones' writing provides a sense of urgency -- we want these women to leave, to risk everything in trying to escape their country and find a new life . . . His effort proves up to the challenge of vividly depicting the harsh, terrible circumstances and also believably gives hope that the individualist spark can sometimes carry us through to better things.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“An eye-opening journey to the dark side of desire.”—Vogue.com
“Lifting the veil on a little-known country, Brandon W. Jones’s debut novel, All Woman and Springtime, tells the story of two North Korean teenagers escaping the authoritarian state and battling the modern-day slave trade.”—National Geographic Traveler
“[A] moving, heartbreaking, yet hopeful novel . . . This important story exposes startling acts of human cruelty and uncovers the amazing resiliency of the human being, mind and body.”—Salt Lake City Weekly
“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
“[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
“Dramatic . . . [A] well-paced story.”—Publishers Weekly
“One of the most absorbing, chilling, beautifully written, and important novels I’ve read in many years.”
—Alice Walker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Algonquin Books|April 25, 2012|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-1-61620-077-0
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 labour 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 II-sun, a friend she describes as all woman and springtime. But II-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. This spellbinding debut, reminiscent of `Memoirs of a Geisha', depicts with chilling accuracy life behind North Korea's iron curtain. But for Gi and II-sun, forced into the underworld of human trafficking, their captivity outside North Korea is far crueler than the tight control of their Dear Leader. Tender-hearted Gi, just on the verge of womanhood, is consigned to a fate that threatens not only her body but her mind. How she and II-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.
This was a fascinating, fast-paced story without a minute to put the book down! Being caught up in the lives of Jasmine, Gi, II-sun and Cho was undeniably real. I felt like I was being tugged along with these four women as they struggled through their daily lives, trying to make sense of who and what they are. Being sold into prostitution was a huge blow to their ego's and their inexperience was shamelessly embarrassing to watch.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Brandon Jones goes where no one really wants to go. He creates beautiful damaged people, awakening to their sense of self, their sexuality and the conflict with a rigid, perverted ruthless dictatorship. Throw in the horrible abuse of trust, the vulturistic preying upon naivety and the ruined lives trying to express the longing for a relationship, and Jones shows us life inside the dictatorship of North Korea. Youth, expression, wants and yearning cannot be denied in this totalitarian regime, to the detriment of those who for a moment reveal their inner self. And they are preyed upon by a subculture that twists their yearning into crimminal enterprise. White slavery. Take everything sacred about the relationship of love and trust between a man and a woman, and now pervert it into explotation - a disturbing submersion into the distorted world of pornography, of the dehumanization of women where false gratification in the act of sex is the end-all of the human relationship.
Brandon creates believable lives that you worry about, that are true to the perverse forces thrust on them as they try to survive and find meaning in the life forced upon them. There is no sequel to this effort, no "All Woman and Summer or Fall." You will be profoundly moved, and shaken by the reality created, and rejoice at the triumph of the human spirit.
Pierce Scranton Jr. MD
ALL WOMAN AND SPRINGTIME is a serious, well-written, starkly affecting novel that is thoughtful on many levels --- human, philosophical and political. The book presents a distinct picture of the propaganda machine" of North Korea, showing visions of a "utopian" socialist society that has failed completely, transformed into a brutal totalitarian regime. North Korean citizens serve what amounts to a life sentence, and two girlfriends who've been orphaned at the hands of the North Korean government live as "Chosun" by the savage grace of their "Dear Leader," Kim Il-sung. This dictator allows his people extremely limited privileges that include simple survival, daily reprieve from physical and psychological torture --- provided his workers perform up to standards --- and the simple ability to eat reasonably well as long as everyone remains strictly obedient to whatever he desires and thinks.
The two girls who form the subject of this novel are close friends from the orphanage where they grew up. Gyong-ho and Il-Sun were slaves to their own government long before they were sold into the sex slave market. Like all citizens, they have learned since birth to prostrate to their leader, carry mementos of worship that liken him to a god, and labor even as children. Kept under lock and key, they are possessions. The psychological component of their suffering is complex and varies with the many kinds of imprisonment they face.
Death itself is a release in this situation of daily oppression. All of North Korea closely resembles a concentration camp, but the girls' experiences in other countries are even worse. This book explores friendship and the idea that simple companionship allows the possibility of endurance. The girls come of age working in a sweatshop and look to their future with hope about the prospect of falling in love and "becoming a woman." They are betrayed by their own human needs, at the core of these the essential desire to be loved and cherished. Completely innocent and convinced that she's falling in love, Il-Sun falls head-on into a trap laid by a man who lures her out of the country along with many other girls, including her friend Gyong-ho. Once they discover the man they trusted has sold them into a life of permanent captivity, it's too late for any of them.
People living in North Korea are surrounded by death, loss of whole families, food shortages, black-market trades, national production quotas, forbidden love and religion, and disturbing levels of individual corruption. Even so, there exists in any world a certain degree of rebellion and insurgence of individualism that are the natural result of the human spirit needing to express and release itself. The will to survive and endure helps some rebel and hope for a better future.
The most shocking aspect of the book is the ending, which occurs under the radar in the United States in a situation of forced prostitution. This is a worthy read for anyone who enjoys a gritty, intense, meaningful story, particularly those who loved MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA. As a debut, it's an impressive creation that provides a great deal of food for thought about themes relating to politics and humanity. Its focus is on corruption, but its key message is about the power of the human spirit to endure.
Reviewed by Melanie Smith
This is a novel of fear and totalitarianism. It is the story of white slavery and the abuse of women by those in power. It is an eye-opening novel of a nation's terrorism and sadism toward people who do not act the right way.
It is also the story of Gyong-Ho and Il-Sun, two seventeen year-old women who have been together in an orphanage since they were children. There they had little to eat and few possessions. They worked in a factory sewing clothes and had no right to expect to advance further than this though Il-Sun wants more for herself. Il-Sun is very outgoing and beautiful while Gyong-Ho is a savant with number, craving to learn about the physical world. They end up being traded into the world of sex slavery.
The book is somewhat simplified in its writing, as though it were written down so that it could attract a larger audience. I felt that there was a young adult feel to the writing though the subjects and themes of the book are very adult.