Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee & Susan McClelland
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
Published: September 13th 2016 by Harry N. Abrams
Genre: Nonfiction, YA, Children’s, Memoir
Overall rating: 4/5
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley, but that does not have a sway in my reviews. I am a human being with thoughts of her own, and I am not obligated to automatically give this book five stars.
“Gods don’t die!”
The young narrator yelled these words to his parents after properly mourning the death of Kim Il-Sung. These three words resonated with me throughout my read. From the beginning of this memoir, we are told of a fearless leader who braved battles, turned sand into rice, and pinecones into grenades. The death of Kim Il-Sung was the downfall of so many. The takeover of Kim Jong-Il was the turning point for this northern country and for this young narrator; it was the catalyst that made Sungju realize his country wasn’t the most amazing country in the world, that it was merely a lie.
As Lee weaves the tale of his life, he educates the reader about the different life lived in North Korea. For example, he explains that North Korea wasn’t always so bad. In Pyongnam, he lived a fairly good life. He ate good food every day, played with toys and watch government regulated TV, and he even had a pet dog. To him, he was the happiest boy. As a reader, this was necessary to me because I always thought North Korea was an impoverished country due to the communist regime, but it was really impoverished because Kim Jong-Il was a greedy egotistical leader who didn’t know how to care for a country.
In the end, those three words, “Gods don’t die,” comes back around in a way that reveals to the narrator that there are no such thing as gods. It’s a loss of faith, but a regaining of hope. The narrator lost faith in the gods of North Korea but regained hope in life outside of the northern borders. The history of his country may be painful, yet he carried it with him and was able to write and share it with the world. This to me is true power. Not war. But the act of surviving and sharing your survival.
With the current state of the US and North Korea, whether you’re political or not, I feel that this story is very relevant. It may be meant for younger readers, but I believe the content will interest people of all ages. It goes over race, poverty, war, xenophobia, etc. and it is real.
This story needs to be read and now seems pretty timely, don’t you think?