Writers Reading: I’ll Be Right There

“I just want something to change. Nothing ever changes no matter how hard we fight, so we become lethargic. Sometimes I find myself wishing that someone would steal all the books, just take them all, every last one, even from the libraries. I wish the schools would close so that no one could go, not even if they wanted to. Everything is the same. It only feels like time is passing, and only the characters change. We are torn apart and chased around. We fight back and get chased some more . . . We all stare at the walls and complain of loneliness. All we have to do is turn around, but instead we keep our faces to the walls.” (91)

I’ll Be Right There by Kyung-Sook Shin is a story of nostalgia, regret, and the influence of literature on three college students framed by the memories of Jung Yoon, the novel’s protagonist. Constant, tumultuous protests in 1980s South Korea serve as a backdrop for the engaging, quiet drama of  the novel’s central characters.

Kyung-Sook Shin doesn’t waste a word—her spare writing style tempers the highly emotional scenes, and she avoids the melodrama that often accompanies stories about late adolescence. I’m not sure what it’s all building to—it’s not really a plot driven book—but each time the author reveals something genuinely surprising about a character, I remember sit back and enjoy the ride. (On page 185 of 324.)