Monday, June 3, 2019

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

I've enjoyed every one of Lisa See's books that I've read, and this one is no exception.  "The Island of Sea Women" tells the story of the women divers on the Korean island of Jeju.  It follows the lives of Young-sook and Mi-ja, best friends who come from very different backgrounds.  It begins in the 1930s, under Japanese occupation, and follows them through WWII and the Korean war, into modern times.  Their friendship is tested and strained through events that no one could have foreseen, and only much later in their lives is the entire story understood.

I also learned about the matri-focal culture of the haenyeo, the women divers, which I had never heard of.  While they still needed sons to perform ancestor worship, and in modern times would never be head of the Fishing Association (a man would), the Jeju divers were strong women who did hard labor diving in the sea while the men took care of the children.  Women were used to making their own decisions, making money, and being in charge.

I thought this was one of See's most interesting book, and highly recommend it!

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