Title: Please Look After Mom
Author: Kyung-sook Shin
Publication Information for English Translation: Alfred A. Knopf, Random House, Inc. 2011. 235 pages.
Book Source: I picked this book because reading the publicity about the book and seeing it at the local bookstore.
Favorite Quote: "Even though I'm a mother, I have so many dreams of my own, and I remember things from my childhood, from when I was a girl and a young woman, and I haven't forgotten a thing. So why did we think of Mom as a mom from the very beginning? She didn't have the opportunity to pursue her dreams ... Why did I never give a thought to Mom's dreams?"
Please Look After Mom is a book translated from Korean. Kyung-sook Shin is an acclaimed South Korean author, and this is her first book that has been translated into English.
It is the story of a family. Rather, it is the reflections of one family. The premise is simple - Mom is missing. She went missing at a subway station when Father let go of her hand and lost sight of her. She is elderly and ill. The family is looking frantically for her, but she is nowhere to be found.
Who is the family? It is Father and the three children. The book is in four parts and presents reflections on the life of the family over the years from different perspectives. The elder daughter, the only son, the father/husband, and finally Mom herself mixed in with glimpses of the younger daughter who is herself a mother.
The complexities of the relationships explored and the emotions felt are beautifully expressed in this book. Essentially, it is a book of regrets. Things that should have been done and said. Actions and people or really the person who should never have been taken for granted. Expressed in a cliche, this book is all about the fact that "you don't know what you've got until it's gone." Expressed in a song lyric, this book would be about the fact that "I just wish I could have told him [her] in the living years."
I absolutely loved this book and walked away to call the people in my life and let them know my love and appreciation for them. What a wonderful debut translation of this author's. I hope we are fortunate enough to read more.