Hyeonseo Lee – The Girl with Seven Names

I don’t think I’ll ever forget this book, because it opened my eyes to what life is like for some of the most oppressed people in the world.

The thing that shocked me the most was that if this was a fiction book, I would have been laughing and saying that the plot was just too far-fetched and unbelievable.

But this isn’t fiction. It’s someone’s life. And that’s terrifying.

I genuinely want to cry for all that one woman has been through, but then thinking about how many other people are in her same situation, it’s heart breaking.

I, as probably everyone else has, had only really heard bits of what life is like in North Korea, the things you see on the news when Kim Jong Un does something that the rest of the world thinks is unacceptable, but hearing what life is really like in that country was mind blowing. If you’d told me that perhaps that was what life was like 50-100 years ago, I wouldn’t have been so shocked, but it’s now. Right now.

I can’t keep dwelling on this right now, because it’s making it very hard not to get angry and upset, but all I will say is that this book was incredibly well written, the author is clearly very intelligent, and she’s not afraid to shy away from the truth that perhaps paints her in a negative light, because it’s part of her story.

Her story covers her early life, the loss of her father, then her subsequent illegal crossing into China and her seemingly never-ending quest to just be safe and happy. As I mentioned before, it does read like fiction, it’s fast paced and full of drama, but all grounded in the sadness that this is reality.

I loved the fact that the author was so honest, especially about the fact that life after leaving North Korea isn’t idyllicly happy, even when finally reaching a place she can rest. It was also quite unique in the fact that she didn’t initially even intend to leave her home for good, but it’s a sign of how brutal the regime is that her life ended up in this way.

I’d recommend this book to everyone, but in particular, I’d love to recommend it to some of the older teenagers that I know. It’s not an easy read for sure, but I think it would open their eyes to the fact that they are so lucky to be where they are and not have to fight to live in freedom.

My rating: 5Average rating: 4.44
320 pages. Published in: 2015
Read in Paperbackon 23rd-26th May 2020

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