Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Girl with the Seven Names

Yesterday I finished The Girl with the Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee while on the way back from St. George. She is a North Korean defector who originally didn't intend to defect. This story has similarities to Where the Wind Leads by Vinh Chung, but it's not quite as exciting, and there aren't quite so many miracles, but oh so interesting to learn more about life in North Korea! I need to go look up her TEd talk now!

And a few quotes and thoughts:
"She liked to dress well because she thought this made up for plain and ordinary looks." (Chapter 1)
Perhaps I ought to dress better to make up for my plain and ordinary looks? I do try to smile to make up for my plain and ordinary looks, but my plain and ordinary personality causes me to wear generally plain and ordinary clothes. I did a research paper once on how better looking/better dressed people get treated better. but I'm still pretty plain and ordinary.
"If a couple loved each other too much, it would condense all the affection that should last a lifetime into too short a period and one of them would die young." (Chapter 1)
Oh that's a disheartening belief!

The birth of Kim Jong Il:
"His birth was foretold by miraculous signs in the heavens: a double rainbow over Mount Pectu, swallows singing songs of praise with human voices, and the appearance of a bright new star in the sky." (Chapter 4)
It's interesting that he would choose similarities to the signs of Christ's birth. Maybe that's why he didn't want them knowing anything of Christianity because they'd see that he copied parts of the signs of Christ's birth. It's like he thought of himself as a combination of Christ, Santa Claus, and an Egyptian pharoah. The author points out later in the book, that the only person with real freedom in North Korea is the ruler, not the people.

"Women had to be more careful than men in their attitude toward everything in life." (Chapter 17) Sad, but true.

The name she got when she was engaged to someone she didn't want to be engaged to: "My new name meant: the person who respects elders and makes a good wife by following her husband and listening really well to him." (Chapter 22) How insulting!

Lee experienced miracles in her life. A train worker helped them get away from another worker, and in a culture where people often turn each other in to authorities for crimes, no other passengers on the train exposed her hiding family (Chapter 6). In chapter 45, when Lee is helping her mother and brother defect, while in transport, after openly speaking Korean with one another, they are stopped by an officer at a checkpoint, and her brother and mother pretend to be deaf and mute and no one turns them in! In Chapter 48, Dick from Australia miraculously comes to her aid. He gives her money, lets her stay in his guest house, and accompanies her to the jail. She hadn't experienced such kindness with no strings attached. She says "Random acts of kindness had been so rare that they'd stick in my memory. . . . He showed me that there was another world where strangers help strangers for no other reason than that it is good to do so. . . .  From the day I met him, the worlds was a less cynical place. I started feeling warmth for other people. This seemed so natural, and yet I'd never felt it before."

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Girl Power from Where the Crawdads Sing

Yes, I've been listening to books lately. My friends have a book club that I don't really go to, but lately since my youngest is in preschool, I've been trying to listen to some of them so that I won't feel like such an intruder if I do decide to stop in at one of their meetings. Where the Crawdads Sing was good like many of the others, but I think I prefer nonfiction. It's hard spending so much time on anything not to have it be really inspirational. Anyway, I liked this empowering line from Chapter 17.

Upon entering womanhood: "...this ain't nothing to be ashamed of. It ain't no curse like folks say. This here's the starting of all life and only a woman can do it. You're a woman now, baby!"

I beg to differ about the curse part, but this is a job only we women can do, and I liked that.