Political Power Plays


The decisions you make in your life have a lasting impact on you, as well as those around you. For two young women in Seoul, their lives, once closely connected, divert drastically due to the decisions they’ve made in Yoojin Grace Wuertz’s Everything Belongs to Us.

During 1978 in Seoul, two friends, who come from very different social strata, Jisun and Namin, are studying at the nation’s top university but with disparate goals in mind for their lives. Jisun comes from privilege and wants nothing to do with her father’s empire, instead wanting to pursue activism to better the lives of the common people during the current sociopolitical climate. Namin comes from poverty and with her remarkable intelligence works incredibly hard to earn a medical degree to bring security and success to her family. After meeting an ambitious young man, Sunam, the girls’ lives drastically change from the decisions they make in their relationships with each other and with Sunam.

It took a little while to become invested in the characters and the story, but once it caught my attention about halfway through, I wanted to learn what the outcome would be, although I was ultimately let down by the lackluster ending. Perhaps the lag in the first half came from the moderately roving point of view narrative style that was used to connect all the characters together, but seemed to meander more than anything else. This narrative serves as a reminder of the massive consequences that can come from your actions and the actions of those around you, even if these consequences might not directly impact you. With not many stories focused on Korean culture in the forefront of American’s minds, there were lots of possibilities for this story to explore and educate; instead, it focused more on melodramatic relationships that could have been set almost anywhere, but it was still a decent read.

Overall, I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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