“On the day of her sister's birth, Janie is told by her Korean grandmother that one girl child in each generation dies. This statement sets the stage for Janie's 'disappearance' and 'reemergence.' Laced with Korean folklore and culture, the story moves seamlessly from Korea to Middle America and reflects the travails of an immigrant family both culturally and emotionally. The writing in this debut is poetic, spare, and exquisite. It would be a great pick for a book group.”
— Biddy Kehoe, Hockessin Book Shelf, Hockessin, DE
On the night Janie waits for her sister, Hannah, to be born, her grandmother tells her a story: Since the Japanese occupation of Korea, their family has lost a daughter in every generation, so Janie is charged with keeping Hannah safe. As time passes, Janie hears more stories, while facts remain unspoken. Her father tells tales about numbers, and in his stories everything works out. In her mother's stories, deer explode in fields, frogs bury their loved ones in the ocean, and girls jump from cliffs and fall like flowers into the sea. Within all these stories are warnings.
Years later, when Hannah inexplicably cuts all ties and disappears, Janie embarks on a mission to find her sister and finally uncover the truth beneath her family's silence. To do so, she must confront their history, the reason for her parents' sudden move to America twenty years earlier, and ultimately her conflicted feelings toward her sister and her own role in the betrayal behind their estrangement.
Weaving Korean folklore within a modern narrative of immigration and identity, "Forgotten Country" is a fierce exploration of the inevitability of loss, the conflict between obligation and freedom, and a family struggling to find its way out of silence and back to one another.