Last year I participated in a TLC Tour for Blossoms and Bayonets by Jana McBurney-Lin and Hi-Dong Chai. I really liked that book which was based off of Hi-Dong's family and their experience in South Korea. After my review, I was contacted by both authors and Hi-Dong offered to send me his memoir Shattered by the Wars but Sustained by Love.
It covers the same content of the first book but not so much that you feel like you've read the same book if you've read both. This focuses on the youngest son, Hi-Dong, and his personal experiences growing up through the age of 15 in Korea until he leaves for America on the final page.
Like I mentioned when I read the other book, I do not have a lot of information on Korea or on how WWII or the Korean War affected the Korean people. This book was very informative in that way. It definitely gives perspective when you think of a 14 year old boy willing to chop and clean fish in order to help feed himself and his friends. That same boy as a 15 year old, willing to work in a restaurant dish washing/doing hard physical labor in exchange for food for himself and his mother. Waking up early to continue to learn English to please his mother so that he could go to America and not be conscripted into the military.
Description:I hate war. War kills. War maims. War orphans. And it leaves a deep scar not only on the land, that will take years to heal, but also in the hearts of those who are affected by the war. I am one of those who carry a deep emotional wound to this day, more than sixty years later.
During World War II, under Japan, my father was imprisoned because he was a Christian minister who refused to bow down to the picture of the Japanese emperor. My elder brother volunteered to join the Japanese military in the hope of having his father released from the prison. He left home as a vibrant, fifteen-year-old boy and returned home as a worn-out, injured, eighteen-year-old man after the war; he died a year later. During the Korean War, two North Korean officers came to my house and took my father away because he was a Christian minister. He never returned.
"Shattered by the Wars" is a story of love, sacrifice, faith, and suffering, all wrapped in one package. The heroine in the story is my mother, as seen by her youngest son. Mother prayed without ceasing. Through her unceasing prayers, she was able to walk through the dark tunnel of trials and tribulations and lead us onward with love and grace and absolute faith in God.
This book was definitely a thank you to his obviously strong and loving mother. She sacrificed so much and never lost her absolute faith that God is good. She willingly gave what little she had to others who were in need and passed that on to her young son.
And as a teacher this cracked me up...
"I guess your ancestors had plenty time on their hands and were bored," I said "And they decided to make English complicated for the future generations to sweat and suffer."
After reading both the fiction and memoir based on the same family I would recommend reading Blossom and Bayonets first and then Shattered by the Wars. However, reading just one or the other would not be a problem either.
Have you ever read a fiction and non-fiction book based on the same story? Which do you prefer, memoirs or historical fiction? Do you have stories or memories of your mother sacrificing to make your life easier?
Thank you to Hi-Dong Chai for a copy of his book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.