Friday, February 22, 2013

Book Review: Journal of the Third Daughter: Growing up in Korea

Title: Journal of the Third Daughter: Growing up in Korea
Author: Frances Lampe Peterson
Paperback: 152 pages
Publisher: Four Seasons Publishers (2000)
ISBN-13: 9781891929380

It's really hard to slap a negative review on a memoir like this because I'm not in a position to judge the life the author led; rather, the way she wrote it down. For that, I can say that this is not a very good book.

For a memoir that claims to cover the period of time before her birth up until she left Korea and entered college, it tells surprisingly little. Far too much valuable information is assumed to the reader; as if only other "mishkids" were reading. The average reader, even one with a background or interest in Korea, is mostly left wondering what exactly is going on.

The writing style hurts the experience, too, as it is entirely too oral. Gratuitous exclamations abound. Chapters are arranged more like topics and are often difficult to follow. The "third daughter" motif fails to make an appearance other than in the title. Romanization of Korean words are sloppy and inconsistent. The uninspired layout isn't going to win any beauty contests, either.

I was really hoping for a salient recount like in Mary Linley Taylor's "Chain of Amber" but instead it read more like a disjointed gathering of somewhat related recollections. Sometimes oral histories that make their way to print are hidden treasures begging to be discovered and relived. Others are more suitable for keeping in the family for nostalgia's sake. This book is the latter.


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