The Island of Sea Women: A Novel (CD-Audio)

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By Lisa See, Jennifer Lim (Read by)
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Staff Reviews

Lisa See has done it again! In her latest book, she has beautifully captured the lives of the people on the Korean island of Jeju and the delicate, strong and complex relationships between women. Her novel follows the life of Young-sook, beginning in 2008 when she is an old women sorting seaweed on the beach and jumps back to the 1930’s when Japan occupied Korea and Young-sook was a young teenager starting her training as a haenyeo diver. The opening scene of Young-sook sorting seaweed on the beach as an old woman has a young family asking her if she knows this woman in the old photograph because they think she was in the woman’s wedding. Young-sook quickly says no and to ask someone else. All the women on the beach sorting seaweed have given this family the same answer. The novel then jumps to Young-sook as a teenager with her best friend Mi-ja, as the girls are getting ready to start diving. We find out that Mi-ja was the woman in the photograph, leaving us with a big question, what happened to these two women to cause such a rift the their relationship? This is where Lisa See’s real magic comes in, her intricate storytelling weaves the history of Korea and the complex relationships within women, as mothers, daughters, friends, and wives together seamlessly. A beautiful read that will leave you with an empty tissue box.

— Jessica

March 2019 Indie Next List

“Off the southern coast of the Korean Peninsula, Jeju Island is home to generations of haenyo—women who take their living from both land and sea and call the shots in their matriarchal society. Young-sook and Mi-ja are best friends in the 1930s, learning to dive with their all-female collective while their island suffers under Japanese colonialism. Lisa See follows them as they grow up under Japanese rule, into WWII, to the Korean War and its devastating aftermath, and into the 21st century. The Island of Sea Women is not only a story of friendship found, lost, and found again, but also a richly detailed picture of a unique culture of women in a world spinning out of control. Amazing detail and presence.”
— Janet Rhodes, BookPeople of Moscow, Moscow, ID



“A mesmerizing new historical novel” (O, The Oprah Magazine) from Lisa See, the bestselling author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, about female friendship and devastating family secrets on a small Korean island.

Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends who come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook’s mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility—but also danger.

Despite their love for each other, Mi-ja and Young-sook find it impossible to ignore their differences. The Island of Sea Women takes place over many decades, beginning during a period of Japanese colonialism in the 1930s and 1940s, followed by World War II, the Korean War, through the era of cell phones and wet suits for the women divers. Throughout this time, the residents of Jeju find themselves caught between warring empires. Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator. Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother’s position leading the divers in their village. Little do the two friends know that forces outside their control will push their friendship to the breaking point.

“This vivid…thoughtful and empathetic” novel (The New York Times Book Review) illuminates a world turned upside down, one where the women are in charge and the men take care of the children. “A wonderful ode to a truly singular group of women” (Publishers Weekly), The Island of Sea Women is a “beautiful story…about the endurance of friendship when it’s pushed to its limits, and you…will love it” (Cosmopolitan).

About the Author

Lisa See is the New York Times bestselling author of The Island of Sea WomenThe Tea Girl of Hummingbird LaneSnow Flower and the Secret FanPeony in LoveShanghai GirlsChina Dolls, and Dreams of Joy, which debuted at #1. She is also the author of On Gold Mountain, which tells the story of her Chinese American family’s settlement in Los Angeles. See was the recipient of the Golden Spike Award from the Chinese Historical Association of Southern California and the Historymaker’s Award from the Chinese American Museum. She was also named National Woman of the Year by the Organization of Chinese American Women.

Praise For…

"This multigenerational tale of women living on an island off the coast of Korea details a world in which women have power and authority and work hard as deep-sea divers. Two women and their friendship are at the heart of a tale in which war and disruption, including American occupation, destroy some lives and alter others. Jennifer Lim . . . is an appropriate narrator who understands the correct pronunciation of local names and locales. The novel is a beautifully written, sublime piece of fiction."
— The Christian Science Monitor
Product Details
ISBN: 9781508266860
ISBN-10: 1508266867
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: March 5th, 2019
Pages: 320
Language: English