Seoul, 1978. Read more...
Seoul, 1978. At South Korea's top university, the nation's best and brightest compete to join the professional elite of an authoritarian regime. Success could lead to a life of rarefied privilege and wealth; failure means being left irrevocably behind.
For childhood friends Jisun and Namin, the stakes couldn't be more different. Jisun, the daughter of a powerful business mogul, grew up on a mountainside estate with lush gardens and a dedicated chauffeur. Namin's parents run a tented food cart from dawn to curfew; her sister works in a shoe factory. Now Jisun wants as little to do with her father's world as possible, abandoning her schoolwork in favor of the underground activist movement, while Namin studies tirelessly in the service of one goal: to launch herself and her family out of poverty.
But everything changes when Jisun and Namin meet an ambitious, charming student named Sunam, whose need to please his family has led him to a prestigious club: the Circle. Under the influence of his mentor, Juno, a manipulative social climber, Sunam becomes entangled with both women, as they all make choices that will change their lives forever.
In this sweeping yet intimate debut, Yoojin Grace Wuertz details four intertwining lives that are rife with turmoil and desire, private anxieties and public betrayals, dashed hopes and broken dreams--while a nation moves toward prosperity at any cost.
Praise for Everything Belongs to Us
-Engrossing. Yoojin Grace] Wuertz is an important new voice in American fiction.---Kirkus, starred review
- A] memorable debut . . . Wuertz crafts a story with delicious scenes and plot threads.---Publishers Weekly
-An absorbing debut destined for major lists and nominations.---Booklist
-In Everything Belongs to Us, Wuertz has given us a Middlemarch for modern South Korea. She's woven the whole social tapestry, and made us care about every last thread.---Susan Choi, author of My Education
-I found myself engrossed in the difficult choices faced by Wuertz's nuanced, engaging characters as they navigate college politics and romance in 1970s Seoul. I'm thrilled to have experienced their inner lives in these pages--to have celebrated their victories and commiserated in the pain of their mistakes--and would happily have stuck with them for hundreds more.---Emily Barton, author of The Book of Esther
-What a story Everything belongs to this terrific debut: love, family, friendship, and politics. I especially loved the two strong-willed and passionate heroines. Their ideals, choices, and struggles make this an utterly rapturous literary page-turner.---Samuel Park, author of This Burns My Heart
-Historic in scope yet eerily contemporary, Everything Belongs to Us is a stirring debut that immerses readers in a society where some quietly hope for change and others must demand it. In Yoojin Grace Wuertz's capable hands, characters come alive with desire for a different kind of life, and heartbreak is the price of longing.---Jung Yun, author of Shelter
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-12-19
- Reviewer: Staff
Wuertzs memorable debut takes place in 1978 Seoul and follows four university studentstwo boys, two girlsas they work and fumble their way through a school year of camaraderie and betrayal. The girlsNamin, a serious student seen as her poor familys one hope at financial success, and Jisun, her wealthy childhood pal bent on becoming a labor activistfind their friendship in flux as they begin drifting down separate paths toward adulthood. Their story lines bring them in contact with Sunam, a charming student struggling to find his spot on the social ladder, and Juno, a more experienced boy sponsoring Sunam as a pledge to the university social club, the Circle. Juno desires Jisun, who eschews his interest, and Sunam and Namin become a romantic item after meeting at a party held by the Circle. But it isnt long before Namins studies and family lifean American GI impregnates her older sisterpulls her away from Sunams affection, and he begins spending more time with the seductive Jisun. Wuertz crafts a story with delicious scenes and plot threads, perceptively showing the push and pull of relationships in a strictly mannered society. (Feb.)