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Year of Impossible Goodbyes

by Sook Nyul Choi

Published by Houghton Mifflin, 1991
169 pages
ISBN: 0-395-57419-6

Age 11 and older

A stupendous autobiographical novel set in Korea involves ten-year-old Sookan and her family's survival during and after World War II. They experience a devastating sequence of losses due to the physical and psychological cruelties of occupying authorities, first the Japanese military and then the Communist Russian troops. Before people were turned against each other, hunger was their common enemy; afterwards, the enemy became lack of mutual trust. But hope and even trust prevail. The stark, spare story is suspensefully paced with a single celebratory event offering relief at a critical point. Many memorable images will stand out for readers long after they finish this book, such as episodes involving the "sock girls"; the children's witnessing of an elder's abandonment of his shoes; and the bravery of an aunt who rebelled against the unwritten rules of a battle to win young minds. Co-winner, 1991 CCBC Newbery Discussion. CCBC categories: Fiction For Teenagers; Biography And Autobiography; History, People And Places.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center


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