A 60 Second Review by Anne Brees
Publication Date: September 13th
Genre – Young Adult Nonfiction
Summary – Every Falling Star, the first book to portray contemporary North Korea to a young audience, is the intense memoir of a North Korean boy named Sungju who is forced at age twelve to live on the streets and fend for himself. To survive, Sungju creates a gang and lives by thieving, fighting, begging, and stealing rides on cargo trains. Sungju richly re-creates his scabrous story, depicting what it was like for a boy alone to create a new family with his gang, his “brothers”; to be hungry and to fear arrest, imprisonment, and even execution. This riveting memoir allows young readers to learn about other cultures where freedoms they take for granted do not exist.
Initial Thoughts – When I received this ARC from Netgalley and Abrams Kids, I was so excited to read it. I had never seen a nonfiction book geared towards young adults about North Korea.
Plot – ★★★★★ This book held on to me from the beginning to the end. The high risks that Sungju faces and bravely fights through shows the terrifying truth about North Korea and didn’t read like a “boring nonfiction book”.
Characters – ★★★★★ The boys in Sungju’s gang captured my heart. I fell in love with the way the brave boys fought against their circumstances and found their roles in their broken lives. Their misfortune hit me again and again as I remembered this is a nonfiction book, not another fantasy book.
Story world – ★★★★★ Sungju was from the high class military city of Pyongyang, before his family was disgraced and sent to a poor city in the north. Because of this background, readers are able to see the two sides of North Korea. The rich life the wealthy military leads and the poor, crime and hunger filled lives the rest of the population leads.
Style – ★★★★☆ The style of this book is simple, letting the horror of the actions speak for themselves.
Closing Thoughts – This book has influenced me greatly. Throughout reading it, I kept thinking “Thank goodness stuff like this doesn’t happen today.” And then I remembered this happened very recently and is still happening today. The honest memoir has opened my eyes to more of the world.
Recommendation – Recommended for lovers of bravery, strong friendships, and the important, though hard, truth.