‘Please Look After Mom’
Written by Kyung-Sook Shin
It’s very rare that I read a book and feel so utterly moved that I take moments out of my reading and think about what emotions and memories they evoke for me from my own past.
I had an emotional reaction whilst reading ‘Please Look After Mom’. It made me think of my relationship with my own mom. Those early years as a rambunctious teen with a whole lot of mod attitude and giving her the hardest trailblazing time. Hey, I was the first born and I wanted my fun and fought for it.
‘Please Look After Mom’ tells the story of a family’s search for their missing mother — and their discovery of the desires, heartaches and secrets they never realized she harboured within.
When sixty-nine-year-old So-nyo is separated from her husband among the crowds of the Seoul subway station, and vanishes, their children are consumed with loud recriminations, and are awash in sorrow and guilt. As they argue over the “Missing” flyers they are posting throughout the city — how large of a reward to offer, the best way to phrase the text — they realize that none of them have a recent photograph of Mom. Soon a larger question emerges: do they really know the woman they called Mom?
Told by the alternating voices of Mom’s daughter, son, her husband and, in the shattering conclusion, by Mom herself, the novel pieces together, Rashomon-style, a life that appears ordinary but is anything but.
This is a mystery of one mother that reveals itself to be the mystery of all our mothers: about her triumphs and disappointments and about who she is on her own terms, separate from who she is to her family.
Getting back to my teen years – some battles I won. Some I lost. But all these years later I see how those battles and wins shaped me similarly to what the characters in the book experienced. I only have my mom to thank for that. My love of music, art, travel, drive, emotion and sometimes brassiness – all comes from her. Her sacrifice – always endless. Even today.
‘Please Look After Mom’ reminded me of everything my mom has done for me, given me, cooked for me, fought for me and cherished for me. There were moments I actually wept because of the pure beauty in the words, language, tone and sentiment of this book. In a way it kinda changed my life. I know – it’s cheesy to say. But it’s true.
There was a moment in the last few month’s where I actually thanked my mom for something she did for me as a teen. This is something let’s say we don’t really do in my culture. Now I said it over the phone (small steps) – but I’m glad I told her.
Thank you to Lindsey at Random House – I have a free copy of ‘Please Look After Mom’ up for grabs. Sign up to my blog and you could win yourself this lovely work. If you are already subscribed consider yourself already entered. Contest Closes on May 12, 2012.
If you don’t win it, pick up a copy for your Mum’s for Mother’s Day and remember her to thank her in your own special way.
Best of Luck!