I read Please Look After Mom by Kyung-sook Shin back in 2011. You can read my Goodreads review below. Because that review has garnered interest over the last three years, I decided to highlight this book here. Please Look After Mom stunned me to my core, and what I wrote on Goodreads after I finished reading reflects my vulnerable state at that moment.
A word of caution: Because it is written in the second person point of view, Please Look After Mom is not an easy book to get through. Don’t let that deter you!
Second person is strange and cumbersome, but that style actually fits well here because the book’s plot is fraught with awkwardness and difficult questions. Additionally, this style brings you into the story at a deeper level, which could be why so many (including me) are so moved by this book.
This simple story is about a wife and mother who disappears at a crowded Seoul train station. The voices of her family tell the story as they struggle with the mystery of her disappearance as well as struggle with what this woman really meant to them.
Perhaps this story will affect you as profoundly as it affected me.
My Goodreads review from 2011:
Powerful and unforgettable! I actually believe this book has changed me or at least opened my eyes to my own level of participation (and shortcomings) in my relationships.
This amazing story will rip you to shreds and force you to face difficult questions about your own relationships–not just with your mom but with all those people who claim a piece of your life and heart: “Who are these people who love me so much?” “Why do I take their very existence for granted?” “Do any of these people really know me?” These are hard questions, and this short book is a warning to you to ask these questions when you still have a chance to answer them! You might think you have a strong and open relationship with your mom, dad, sister, spouse, etc., but you can always do more. This story makes you realize that you should take the time to know those you love and also allow them to know you!
“All the relationships in the world are two-way, not determined by one side.” ~ page 132