By Patricia Park
Viking, 2015. 342 pgs. Fiction.
Jane Re is a half-Korean, half-American orphan who grew up in Flushing, New York among the second largest population of ethnic Koreans outside of Korea. Despite high expectations, the economic downturn forced her to find work in the family grocery store under her strict uncle. Jane doesn’t quite fit in and becomes desperate to get away from Flushing, so she takes a job as an au pair for two Brooklyn academics and their daughter.
A trip to Seoul for her grandfather’s funeral turns into an extended stay as Jane reconnects with family and discovers a modern Korea, completely different from the one her uncle left decades earlier. As her outlook on life changes and she tries to find a balance between the two cultures, Jane starts to wonder if the man she loves is really the right person for her.
As someone who is interested in all things Korean, I was really looking forward to this Korean-American retelling of Jane Eyre. Jane, and the struggles she had, felt real to me which probably has a lot to do with the author’s background and personal experiences. I enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in Korean culture, or retellings of classic novels. It was satisfying on both fronts.