Tina Jordan
March 30, 2011 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Please Look After Mom

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Kyung-Sook Shin
publisher
Knopf
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B

Please Look After Mom — a sensation in South Korea, where it sold a million copies — is the story of a family splintered by the loss of matriarch So-nyo, an illiterate farm wife who vanishes in a packed Seoul subway station. The novel unspools from the viewpoints of her eldest daughter, her eldest son (and favorite child), her abusive husband, and, finally, So-nyo herself. The picture that emerges, of an unappreciated mother who sacrificed her life for her family, is a tediously familiar one. But despite the stock characters — and Shin’s regrettable forays into pathos — the story somehow works, redeemed by the resolute So-nyo of the last chapters, a woman her husband and children never knew. B

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