I absolutely loved this book by one of my favourite authors, Lisa See. The Island of Sea Women is a historical fiction novel that takes place on Jeju Island in South Korea. It begins in the late 1930's.
We follow the friendship of Mi-ja and Young-Sook. They quickly form a strong bond even though they have different backgrounds. Young-Sook is living with her aunt and uncle on the island; they don't treat her very well so she finds solace with Mi-ja and the haenyeo women. The haenyeo, are women on the island who are deep sea divers. Their work is dangerous, but they are highly respected and their work is important. The husbands of the haenyeo take care of the households and raise the children.
The backdrop to the story is WWII, Japanese Colonialism, the Korean War and Hiroshima. Some scenes are very difficult to read, but they are so important, both to know the history and because of what happens to Mi-ja and Young-Sook's friendship as they grow up, get married, and have children of their own.
This book is so beautifully written. The story is both endearing and heartbreaking. I loved learning about the haenyeo culture and learning about a place I knew almost nothing about.
I highly recommend this one to any historical fiction lover, or anyone who wants to learn more about the Korean mermaids.
Bookworm Rating: 🐛🐛🐛🐛🐛