Thursday, January 21, 2021

Book Review: My Brilliant Life by Kim Ae-ran, translated by Chi-Young Kim

Boy, this book is really hard to describe, so this will be a short review.

Areum has the opposite of the Benjamin Button disease. He's one of those little kids you see who looks like a tiny, really old man. Because essentially, he is. His body is aging at an astonishing rate, causing stress and havoc on his whole family. His parents, who are very young and had fewer resources and experience when they had him, have had to grow up fast and muster help. 

He decides to give his parents the ultimate gift: he is writing their love story as a novel, even though their young pregnancy with him was not a welcome event. But he is shifting the focus of the story to their love for each other.

Then his family's story is filmed and shown on a national show that solicits donations for families in need. Through that exposure, Areum makes a new friend online who seems to truly understand him. And since he likely will never meet her in person, she's not put off by his sickliness and appearance. 

Even though there is no magic in this book, it had a very magical, unreal feel to it. It's about family and unconditional love. It's about sacrifice and responsibility. It's about facing down uncomfortable truths you can't avoid. It is beautiful and tragic. It was a unique reading experience. 

This book is published by Forge Books a division of Macmillan, my employer.

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