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Shelter: A Novel by Jung Yun
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Shelter: A Novel

by Jung Yun

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» See also 15 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
Interesting character study marred by melodrama and some unbelievable plot twists. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
Compelling writing but none of the characters are sympathetic. The book opens with a brutal crime. An elderly Korean couple, Jin and Mae Cho, are attacked along with their housekeeper, Marina. The Cho's son, Kyung, lives with his wife Gillian and son Ethan not far from his parents and the rest of the book examines the wounds the awful crime opens. 
 
It is not a pleasant read. Although Yun's writing was compelling to make me want to know what happened, none of the characters are particularly likeable. His father physically abused his mother, who can be manipulative and vindictive. Kyung and Gillian are living beyond their means and their finances are strained. Perhaps the only truly sympathetic and likeable character in this book is Ethan, but he's a child and a minor character.
 
While there's nothing wrong with a dark read (and I'll admit that maybe I wasn't in the mood for this book), it was a tough, aside from the rape, violence, abuse, suicide, murder etc. that went on. Characters don't have to be perfect and I don't have to like them, but if the author doesn't somehow get me to invest in at least one of the major characters then it's usually a tough sell.
 
The very end is also quite bizarre. Although the book is also really on a bit of a downward spiral from the opening, the conclusion is strange. Some other reviewers found it slightly hopeful, others thought it was ridiculous. I'm of the latter camp. It's unclear to me as to what we were supposed to get out of this as readers.
 
I think I'll keep an eye on the author's next book but I wouldn't recommend this unless you're into dark reads and you're snowed in or something. Borrow from the library. ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
Kyung Cho, a Korean-American professor, and his Irish-American wife Gillian (along with their young son) are struggling financially--they overextended themselves to purchase their home, and are now facing the necessity of selling it. Kyung's wealthy parents live nearby, but Kyung's relationship with them is strained and he avoids contact with them. Then, a brutal home invasion attack on his parents, Mae and Jin results in Mae and Jin moving in with Kyung and Gillian, and all sorts of old wounds are reopened.

Besides being an interesting domestic drama, semi-crime thriller, and a psychological study of a dysfunctional family, there is also a lot of interesting background about the culture of Korean families, and the difficulties of a marriage of two people from very different backgrounds. Overall, this was a decent read, although I felt that it ended on an abrupt, and perhaps uncharacteristic note.

3 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Feb 2, 2018 |
This acclaimed debut novel deserves all the great attention and accolades it's received. Both a turn-the-page thriller and a literary investigation of a family's survival from trauma, both recent and decades old, the writing elevates the story into deeper understandings of the nuances in family relationships and how they seep into every act of living. It is a refreshing change that Kyung's Korean-ness is not the central focus of the story, and his being Korean is only incidentally part of the narrative, an essential part of his identity, yes, but not the main focus. Yun also manages to make an unlikeable protagonist sympathetic, which is difficult to do, and at times uncomfortable to read. I found myself rooting for him to step up and overcome his history, but of course, he couldn't, just as all the others in the novel cannot deny how they were shaped because of their familial histories. Because the story is a thriller, I'm loath to reveal how the novel progresses, but it's a high recommendation that will keep you stuck to it until the last page is turned.
  EugeniaKim | Jan 23, 2018 |
This acclaimed debut novel deserves all the great attention and accolades it's received. Both a turn-the-page thriller and a literary investigation of a family's survival from trauma, both recent and decades old, the writing elevates the story into deeper understandings of the nuances in family relationships and how they seep into every act of living. It is a refreshing change that Kyung's Korean-ness is not the central focus of the story, and his being Korean is only incidentally part of the narrative, an essential part of his identity, yes, but not the main focus. Yun also manages to make an unlikeable protagonist sympathetic, which is difficult to do, and at times uncomfortable to read. I found myself rooting for him to step up and overcome his history, but of course, he couldn't, just as all the others in the novel cannot deny how they were shaped because of their familial histories. Because the story is a thriller, I'm loath to reveal how the novel progresses, but it's a high recommendation that will keep you stuck to it until the last page is turned.
  sungene | Sep 27, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
No man may step in the same river twice, for it is not the same river, and he is not the same man. --HERACLITUS
Dedication
To my husband, Joel, who changed everything
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The boy is standing in the doorway again.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"Kyung Cho's home is worth less money than he owes. A tenure-track professor, he and his wife, Gillian, have always lived beyond their means. Now their decisions have caught up with them, and Kyung is anxious for his family's future: all he wants is to provide the home that was denied him to their son. Not that he ever wanted for pleasing things -- his father moved the family from Korea, and made good money engineering patents for the university that now employs his son. Kyung was raised in the town's most affluent neighborhood, in the exquisite house where his parents, Jin and Mae, still live, but his childhood was far from comfortable. Jin was always swift to anger, and whenever he took a hand to Mae, she would inflict the wounds she suffered on Kyung. With the support of his parents' pastor, Kyung brought the cycle to a halt, but he cannot bear the thought of asking them for help. Yet when Jin and Mae become victims of a violent home invasion, the dynamic suddenly changes, and Kyung is compelled to take them in. As the carefully established distance between Kyung and his parents collapses, he must reckon with his childhood, even as the life that he has built begins to crumble. As Shelter veers swiftly toward its startling conclusion, Jung Yun's debut novel leads us through dark and violent territory, where, unexpectedly, the Chos discover hope. Taut and masterfully told, it as riveting as it is profound"--… (more)

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