All Woman and Springtime by Brandon W. Jones
Before she met Il-sun, Gi was a hollow husk of a girl, traumatized from growing up orphaned in one of North Korea’s dreaded forced-labor camps. A mathematical genius, she has learned to cope with her pain by retreating into a realm of numbers and calculations, an escape from both the past and present. She becomes obsessed with Il-sun, in whom she finds a friend who is “all woman and springtime”—beautiful, daring, and radiant. But Il-sun’s pursuit of a better life imperils both girls when her suitor spirits them across the Demilitarized Zone and sells them as sex workers, first in South Korea and then in the United States.
This spellbinding debut, reminiscent of Memoirs of a Geisha, depicts—with chilling accuracy—the suffering behind today’s North Korean iron curtain. But for Gi and Il-sun, forced into the underworld of human trafficking, their captivity outside North Korea is far crueler than the tight control of their “Dear Leader.” Tenderhearted Gi, just on the verge of womanhood, is consigned to a fate that threatens not only her body but her mind. How she and Il-sun endure, how they find a path to healing, is what drives this absorbing and exquisitely written novel—from an exciting young Algonquin discovery—to its perfectly imagined conclusion.
Brandon Jones is a guitarist and sculptor who lives in Hawaii. His debut novel ALL WOMAN AND SPRINGTIME has received advanced early praise from Alice Walker, who said it was “one of the most absorbing, chilling, beautifully written, and important novels I’ve read in many years.”