*Starred Review* They are lost souls who find each other in Seoul. Minjun Ford (Min) is a biracial American who moved to South Korea primarily to better illuminate his identity. A consultant for Samsung, he helps native South Koreans learn the basics of American culture so they can conduct business. Yu-Jin Kim is the lone child of the national minister of defense of South Korea; she is trying to break free from crushing parental expectations and live life according to her own terms. Early in Wiley's debut novel, Min learns of Yu-Jin's death, an apparent suicide. Convinced that his friend could not have killed herself, Min sets off on a mission to find out what really happened. The layered suspense story is, at heart, a deeply nuanced and evocative exploration of identity and personal freedoms and the choices that dictate them. At times the connection between the Korean concept of Han, the anger and resentment felt by an entire nation as a result of centuries of oppression, and Yu-Jin's personal struggles feels a tad forced. Yet Wiley's tale is a knockout, its assured narrative ebbing and flowing with grace while painting a haunting and anguished portrait of youth in all its quiet desperation. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.Review by Library Journal Reviews
Born to an American father and a Korean mother, Min was raised in California but never felt at home there. He moves to Seoul to find himself and falls for cheerful, accomplished university student Yu-jin, whose inexplicable suicide has him reeling. Did she really want to die? Investigating her life reveals that things are more complicated than he thought. From Pushcart-nominated Wiley. Copyright 2021 Library Journal.
In Seoul, South Korea, Min, devastated by the suicide of his girlfriend, throws himself into finding out why she wanted to die, and the more he learns about her, the more he realizes he never really knew her at all.Review by Publisher Summary 2
ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2022: Harper’s Bazaar • Vogue • Good Housekeeping • CrimeReads • BookBub • Veranda • Shondaland • Debutiful • PureWow • and more! A profoundly moving and suspenseful drama that untangles the complicated ties that bind families together—or break them apart—as a young Korean American man’s search for answers about his girlfriend’s mysterious death becomes a soul-searching journey into his own bi-cultural identity When the Seoul police inform Min that his girlfriend Yu-jin has committed suicide, he’s sure it can't be true. She was successful, ambitious, happy, just on the cusp of graduating from university and claiming the future she’d always dreamed of. Min, on the other hand, born to an American father and Korean mother, has never felt quite the same certainty as Yu-jin about his life’s path. After growing up in California, where he always felt “too Korean” to fit in, he’s moved to Seoul in the hope that exploring his Korean heritage will help him find a sense of purpose. And when he meets Yu-jin, little does he know that their carefree relationship will set off a chain of events with tragic consequences for them both. Devastated by Yu-jin’s death, Min throws himself into finding out why she could have secretly wanted to die. Or did she? With a controlling and powerful government official father, and a fraught friendship with her alluring and destructive roommate So-ra, Yu-jin’s life was much more complex than she chose to reveal to Min. And the more he learns about her, the more he begins to doubt he ever really knew her at all.As Yu-jin’s story—a fraught exploration of selfhood, coming-of-age, and family expectations—collides with Min’s, the result is an engrossing page-turner that poses powerful, urgent questions about cultural identity, family bonds, secrets, and what it truly means to belong. "Transportive and poignant." —Susie Yang"Spellbinding." —Jamie Ford"A young writer to watch." —Jess Walter"Unforgettable." —Abi Daré"The most compelling debut novel I've read in years." —Alexander Chee"Heart-stopping and exquisitely plotted." —Patricia Engel"Will stay with me for a long time."—Angie Kim"Gorgeous." —Julia Phillips