I can hardly believe that these words that had sunk deep inside me are surfacing and coming out through my own lips rather than resting heavily all the way to my grave.Mother, Concerning My Daughter
Recently I’ve been very taken with My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite and Concerning My Daughter by Kim Hye-Jin. I’ve talked about the latter elsewhere; it’s definitely not light reading. The mother’s prejudice against her daughter’s homosexuality as a symbol of her rejection of “a good, normal life” as rewarded by Korean culture is difficult to read and really the only thing that made me stick it out was knowing from the get-go — it’s in the blurb, possibly for exactly this reason — that she’s going to grow past it. For some readers, this may be where catharsis lies either because their own parents did or didn’t make it that far.
Either way, I was reminded of a moment in Christina C. Jones’ Something Like Love where (minor spoilers ahead), at a family gathering, Astrid is ready to pick up arms and go toe-to-toe with Eddie’s father. He holds her back and explains that, for his dad, the mildly offensive thing he just said is progress. At several points in the story, I was expecting Green and Lane to pick up and leave, no matter the fact that they’re broke and can’t really afford to go anywhere else. Green would have been justified to disown her mother rather than the other way around, and it’s clear she doesn’t stay for love or hoping that her mother will change. She stays because she has no way out. The fact she doesn’t isn’t a silent condoning of her mother’s words and actions, nor is it the author arguing that children have to remain in abusive relationships with their parents because they are their parents and they owe them.
I don’t want to spoil too much about Concerning My Daughter in this review, but I want to be clear about what it felt like reading it, so that any reader of this review may have a clear idea of its contents. So while I won’t obfuscate, please forgive some occasional vagueness.Continue reading “CONCERNING MY DAUGHTER — Kim Hye-Jin”