White Chrysanthemum
In the spirit of Lilac Girls, the heartbreaking history of Korea is brought to life in this deeply moving and redemptive debut that follows two sisters separated by World War II.Korea, 1943. Hana has lived her entire life under Japanese occupation. As a haenyeo, a female diver of the sea, she enjoys an independence that few other Koreans can still claim. Until the day Hana saves her younger sister from a Japanese soldier and is herself captured and transported to Manchuria. There she is forced to become a “comfort woman” in a Japanese military brothel. But haenyeo are women of power and strength. She will find her way home.South Korea, 2011. Emi has spent more than sixty years trying to forget the sacrifice her sister made, but she must confront the past to discover peace. Seeing the healing of her children and her country, can Emi move beyond the legacy of war to find forgiveness?Suspenseful, hopeful, and ultimately redemptive, White Chrysanthemum tells a story of two sisters whose love for each other is strong enough to triumph over the grim evils of war.

White Chrysanthemum Details

TitleWhite Chrysanthemum
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 30th, 2018
PublisherG.P. Putnam's Sons
ISBN-139780525497653
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, War, Adult, World War II

White Chrysanthemum Review

  • Angela M
    January 1, 1970
    This was not an easy book to read, yet I’m glad that I did. It’s a beautifully written tribute to Korean women who were taken from their homes during the Japanese occupation and forced to be “comfort women”, an inconceivably gentle phrase for the sex slaves they were made to be . It’s also a tribute and a remembrance as the author points out in her note, to all women around the world subjected to rape during wartime. These horrific events of barbaric treatment, this story of what happened to the This was not an easy book to read, yet I’m glad that I did. It’s a beautifully written tribute to Korean women who were taken from their homes during the Japanese occupation and forced to be “comfort women”, an inconceivably gentle phrase for the sex slaves they were made to be . It’s also a tribute and a remembrance as the author points out in her note, to all women around the world subjected to rape during wartime. These horrific events of barbaric treatment, this story of what happened to these women is depicted through the lives of two sisters. Their separate narratives are told decades apart, but they each are very much a part of one another’s thoughts and dreams and memories. Hana, the older sister begins her telling in 1943, when at sixteen she has learned her mother’s skill as a “haenyeo” , a diver, a fisher woman. In spite of the Japanese occupation, their life on this small island off the coast of southern Korea has remained quiet yet vigilant while fearing the Japanese soldiers. Her story of brutal and vicious treatment cuts to the core. What happens to Hana is not for the faint of heart. Hana’s chapters alternate with her younger sister Emi’s when years later in 2011, Emi recounts the past that she has kept from her family, not telling them of the day her sister is taken by a Japanese soldier, as Hana tried to save her little sister from this fate . Emi, though not taken by the Japanese soldier relives the horrific times that she endures. Grief and guilt and love of family, the burdens of the past prey on Emi and she finally tells her children of her losses , her sorrow, the awful things that happened to her village and her family. It’s a work of fiction but it holds the truth of the past as a good work of historical fiction can do. This appears to be well researched and I read several articles confirming what happened during this time to the Koreans. It seems cliche to say this is heartbreaking and gut wrenching but it is difficult to find anything other than these ordinary words. The thing is - there nothing ordinary about this book. Mary Lynn Bracht in her note says “Of those tens of thousands of women and girls enslaved by the Japanese military, only forty-four South Korean survivors are still alive (at the writing of this book) to tell the world what happened during their captivity, how they survived, and how they returned home. We will never know what happened to the other women and girls who perished before getting the chance to let the world know what they suffered .” With this novel she has given them a voice. I’m not sure why I originally gave it 4.5 stars. It is deserving of all the stars . I received an advanced copy of this book from G.P. Putnam's Sons / Penguin through Edelweiss.
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  • Diane S ☔
    January 1, 1970
    This is a book with very hard to read subject matter. It is a beautiful book and an ugly book,and a book based on historical truisms. It is also about historical events of which I had no knowledge.Hana comes from a long line of strong women who are called haenyo, they dive for a living, capturing the bottom feeders of sea creatures, which will be sold at the market. Emi, her younger sister, still not a strong enough swimmer, stays on shore to guard the catch. The Japanese are the occupiers of So This is a book with very hard to read subject matter. It is a beautiful book and an ugly book,and a book based on historical truisms. It is also about historical events of which I had no knowledge.Hana comes from a long line of strong women who are called haenyo, they dive for a living, capturing the bottom feeders of sea creatures, which will be sold at the market. Emi, her younger sister, still not a strong enough swimmer, stays on shore to guard the catch. The Japanese are the occupiers of South Korea, and the women have been warned about these men, never to be found alone. When she sees her younger sister about to become a victim, Hana does the only thing possible, drawing their eyes from her sister and on to herself. A beautiful act of unselfish love.Forced to endure sex as a comfort women, to the Japanese, though in her case it is a particular enemy, Morimoto, who will become her keeper and enslaver. The book alternates between the fate of Hana and other women, and Emi, now in her seventies. She still dives, freer in the water than on land with her aged body, and the life she now leads. A story that is both poignant and horrifying, but told very well.The authors note explains the history behind the story. Between 50,000 and 200,000 of South Korean women were kidnapped and forced to become comfort women to the Japanese army. Most times their parents did not know what happened to them, their fate unknown. I loved both these women, Hana, her strength of character and Emi, who seeks closure. As I said some scenes are hard to read, they are graphic, but they happened. Are in fact still happening to women of many nations. Why is it that men wage war, and women left behind pay the price? What the men went through is acknowledged, we now understand PTSD and other effects of war, though I admit I find even their treatment subpar. What women have gone through is little talked about, if they are lucky enough to return home their family is often too embarrassed to talk and often hide what happened. A guilty shame. So books like this are important. They force us to see and feel for those lost in the shadows.ARC from Edelweiss.
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  • Dem
    January 1, 1970
    A deeply moving and beautifully written historical fiction novel of human resilience and enduring love of sisters, a story about the Korean ‘comfort women’ prostituted by Japanese soldiers in World War II and two sisters separated as young girls but the bond of sisters remains strong and they never strop thinking about each other..This was an eye opening and haunting debut novel by Mary Lynn Brecht and while fictional it is based on real life events that are harrowing and disturbing in places to A deeply moving and beautifully written historical fiction novel of human resilience and enduring love of sisters, a story about the Korean ‘comfort women’ prostituted by Japanese soldiers in World War II and two sisters separated as young girls but the bond of sisters remains strong and they never strop thinking about each other..This was an eye opening and haunting debut novel by Mary Lynn Brecht and while fictional it is based on real life events that are harrowing and disturbing in places to read but I always remind myself that I only have to read about these events " real woman had to endure them and their families have to relive them in trying to find justice and peace for these women" and I thank the author for giving me the opportunity to read and lean about a time in history that was not taught in my curriculam in secondary school. The people in this book are not just make up characters but flesh and blood people in the past whose stories need to be told through fiction or non fiction to educative and keep their memory alive and to seek the truth for a new generaltion. I have lined up a couple of Non Fiction reads to further educate me about this time in our world's ugly history.I listened to this book on audio and the narrator was excellent, well paced and easy to listen to. I always find historical fiction books really give a terrific insight into history and although they are not 100% accurate they do tend to introduce the reader to events and people in history they may not have been aware of or might never read about and I think that is so important.I am starting the Rape of Nanking a non fiction book about the Nanking Massacre and the massive atrociities committed by Imperial Japanese Army after it.
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  • Lori
    January 1, 1970
    Powerfully heartbreaking. I am always so appreciative of authors that bring remarkable stories like this to the forefront. How many stories like Hanna’s exist? ‘The list of women suffering wartime rape is long and will continue to grow unless we include women’s wartime suffering in history books, commemorate the atrocities against them in museums, and remember the women and girls we lost by erecting monuments in their honor, like the Statue of Peace.’ These events can not be covered up... knowle Powerfully heartbreaking. I am always so appreciative of authors that bring remarkable stories like this to the forefront. How many stories like Hanna’s exist? ‘The list of women suffering wartime rape is long and will continue to grow unless we include women’s wartime suffering in history books, commemorate the atrocities against them in museums, and remember the women and girls we lost by erecting monuments in their honor, like the Statue of Peace.’ These events can not be covered up... knowledge is power and stories like this need to continue to be written. A must read. 5 stars.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    Subject matter in this novel was heartbreaking to read but paints a legitimate picture of the suffering of Koreans by the Japanese during WWII and post-war. The story alternatively told told from Hana and Emi’s perspectives, sisters who were ripped apart from one another at a young age is powerful. Hana’s story begins in 1943 as a young girl taken by Japanese soldiers to be used as a sex slave; Emi’s story in 2011, as an older woman carrying the guilt of Hana’s disappearance and trying to come t Subject matter in this novel was heartbreaking to read but paints a legitimate picture of the suffering of Koreans by the Japanese during WWII and post-war. The story alternatively told told from Hana and Emi’s perspectives, sisters who were ripped apart from one another at a young age is powerful. Hana’s story begins in 1943 as a young girl taken by Japanese soldiers to be used as a sex slave; Emi’s story in 2011, as an older woman carrying the guilt of Hana’s disappearance and trying to come to terms with the past.The sisters’ interwoven narratives relating to this historic atrocity are a sobering reminder of sins of the past and relevance to the present.. This is a book that will be put in a prominent place on my bookshelf, one that has influenced me to reflect on the good life I’ve been given. I am grateful Mary Lynn Bracht chose a topic that I was unfamiliar with. She brilliantly captures the essence of human endurance and spirit. A must read.Side note: I wondered if any of these women were still alive so did a web search. Very few are. I discovered South Korea passed legislation in Nov 2017 creating a holiday on August 14 each year to recognize the thousands of sex slaves, or "comfort women," used by the Japanese military during World War II. Aug 14 is the anniversary of a 1991 news conference given by victim Kim Hak-soon, the first to publicly testify about her experience as a comfort woman.
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  • Dorie
    January 1, 1970
    I have read many, many books about WWII but this is a part of that history that was new for me. Ms. Bracht has composed a novel about the suffering of the Koreans during WWII and it is well researched, well written but entirely heartbreaking.The story is about two sisters, Hana and Emiko who live on an island, Jeju, off of the coast of Korea. The novel opens beautifully with Hana being induced as a “Haenyeo”, a woman who dives expertly to sustain her family. It is a difficult but peaceful life a I have read many, many books about WWII but this is a part of that history that was new for me. Ms. Bracht has composed a novel about the suffering of the Koreans during WWII and it is well researched, well written but entirely heartbreaking.The story is about two sisters, Hana and Emiko who live on an island, Jeju, off of the coast of Korea. The novel opens beautifully with Hana being induced as a “Haenyeo”, a woman who dives expertly to sustain her family. It is a difficult but peaceful life and the sisters have known nothing else.Unfortunately the Japanese also know about these secluded women and have come to the island to forcibly take the young women as their slaves. When Hana sees a Japanese soldier on the shores as she is diving she shows herself, rather than hide, to protect her younger sister Emi from the fate that she fears will befall her. The story is then told from two points of view. Hana’s story is so violent and terrible we don’t know if she will survive. Emi survives both WWII and the Korean war only to live with a feeling of guilt. She believes that she should have gone with Hana when she was taken. It isn’t until her last year of life that her children help her to let go of her guilt knowing that is what her sister would have wanted.I won’t go into the plot because there are many reviews where that is given. This book was very difficult to read but it was a story that needed to be told. As a reader I wish that it would have had a little more balance between the “good and the bad” , something to ease the reader a bit after the long chapters about the horrible abuse, but of course the author had her story that she needed to tell.During the Japanese occupation many Korean women were captured and used as sex slaves in the most unconscionable and brutal way. The women were taken to brothels in Manchuria which were maintained purely for the pleasure of the Japanese military. These women, some as young as 12, were kept in their rooms, barely fed and clothed and repeatedly raped day and night by soldiers. The author states that “some historians believe fifty thousand to two hundred thousand Korean women and girls were stolen, tricked or sold into military sexual slavery”.The author is of Korean descent and has written a wonderful author’s note. In part she states “The list of women suffering wartime rape is long and will continue to grow unless we include women’s wartime suffering in history books, commemorate the atrocities against them in museums, and remember the women and girls we lost by erecting monuments in their honor, like the Statue of Peace in Korea”.I am glad that I read the book but I would add a caution that the book is very sexually explicit and perhaps not suitable younger readers.I received an ARC of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss, thank you.
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  • Celia
    January 1, 1970
    Sometimes, old wounds need to be reopened to let them properly healThe white chrysanthemum – in Korea, the flower of the funeral, the flower of death. This story tells of death – perhaps not always death of the body; the spirit can die too.This book tells of the ‘comfort women’, women stolen from Korea to satisfy the sexual needs of the Japanese invaders. Somehow the Japanese think that sexually satisfied men will make better warriors.This book had me captivated from sentence 1. Historical ficti Sometimes, old wounds need to be reopened to let them properly healThe white chrysanthemum – in Korea, the flower of the funeral, the flower of death. This story tells of death – perhaps not always death of the body; the spirit can die too.This book tells of the ‘comfort women’, women stolen from Korea to satisfy the sexual needs of the Japanese invaders. Somehow the Japanese think that sexually satisfied men will make better warriors.This book had me captivated from sentence 1. Historical fiction is my kind of book. And, despite its sadness and horror, oh, I do love this book. It is historical fiction at its finest, full of historical and unfamiliar facts.In the first 5 sentences alone, I found:Japan annexed Korea in 1910Koreans speak fluent Japanese, are educated in Japanese history and culture, and are prohibited from speaking, reading, or writing in their native Korean. Hana, the protagonist, and her mother are haenyeo, women of the sea, and they work for themselves. Haenyeo are female divers in the Korean province of Jeju and are known for their independent spirit, iron will and determination.The story of Hana and her family begins in 1943. Hana is an only child until she turns 7 years old. When Little Sister is born, her mother says in a serious tone “You are her protector now, Hana”. Hana promises to protect her and knows this promise is forever.This is a very fast paced book. In the first chapter alone, we meet Hana, her sister is born, a Japanese soldier abducts Hana, and in order to save her sister as she has promised, she goes with the soldier without complaint. Hana is abducted but her sister stays behind.2011. We meet Emi and quickly learn she is Little Sister… 58 years later. Emi is old and sad and tormented with horrible dreams. She has lost someone she loves. Can she find her?The story alternates between Hana, whose body is imprisoned and Emi, whose spirit is imprisoned.Yes, the book is full of gruesome and horrific images. However we need to know these horrible things happened.I strongly recommend this book to those who love historical fiction and those who care.
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  • RoseMary Achey
    January 1, 1970
    A heartbreaking tale of two sisters beginning in 1943 as one of the sisters is kidnapped by a Japanese solider in occupied Korea. Forced into sexual slavery she served as a Comfort Woman to members of the Japanese military. The sister left behind spends the remainder of her life looking for her stolen sibling. The writing is good, the story well researched but some passages will be tough for mild mannered book clubbers. An important part of history that many of us are unaware and I thank the aut A heartbreaking tale of two sisters beginning in 1943 as one of the sisters is kidnapped by a Japanese solider in occupied Korea. Forced into sexual slavery she served as a Comfort Woman to members of the Japanese military. The sister left behind spends the remainder of her life looking for her stolen sibling. The writing is good, the story well researched but some passages will be tough for mild mannered book clubbers. An important part of history that many of us are unaware and I thank the author for bringing this to the forefront.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    I received this from netgalley.com in exchange for a review. Korea, 1943. Hana, age 16 has lived her entire life under Japanese occupation. South Korea, 2011. Emi, her now elderly sister. As the story progresses, we understand the heart-breaking ordeals each of the sisters endured but they never forgot the love they had for each other.Very good book. This is the first book I've read where I was equally interested and invested in both timelines.4☆
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  • Roman Clodia
    January 1, 1970
    The true story of Korean 'comfort women' i.e. sex slaves abducted by the Japanese army for the 'servicing' of troops, undoubtedly deserves to be told but this isn't a particularly accomplished or sophisticated novel. In fact, so keen is it to tell a story, that Hana, a 16 year old girl enslaved by a Japanese military officer, spends more time on the run in Manchuria and Mongolia than in the brothel in which she's placed. Hana's story is interspersed with that of Emi in the present, her younger s The true story of Korean 'comfort women' i.e. sex slaves abducted by the Japanese army for the 'servicing' of troops, undoubtedly deserves to be told but this isn't a particularly accomplished or sophisticated novel. In fact, so keen is it to tell a story, that Hana, a 16 year old girl enslaved by a Japanese military officer, spends more time on the run in Manchuria and Mongolia than in the brothel in which she's placed. Hana's story is interspersed with that of Emi in the present, her younger sister, now an old woman, uncovering family secrets and searching for a trace of her lost sister. I'm sorry to sound a bit dismissive: this *is* an important story based on the claims that only came out in 1991 that Korean women were enslaved, raped and forced into prostitution by Japanese occupying forces in the run-up to and during WW2. Of course, this is horrific; of course it needs to be told - but as a novel this feels too simplistic and straightforward a treatment.The author's afterword has a similar naivety about it when it reiterates, again, the platitude that we need to remember history to stop us repeating it - but, as she well knows, women continue to be raped during conflicts in, for example, Rwanda, Afghanistan, the former Yugoslavia, Syria, Iraq (even as I write this)... the evidence rather shows that we don't learn from history so let's not kid ourselves. So yes, an important, story, but rather disappointing as a novel. Thanks to the publisher for an ARC via NetGalley.
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  • Laurel
    January 1, 1970
    When I worked at a small Midwestern liberal arts college, I made the acquaintance of a student whose Korean heritage fed her passion for the halmonis or “grandmothers” and encouraged her to make an extended visit to South Korea and participate in a Wednesday Demonstration. Her interest became mine, albeit less passionately, but I did spend time via the Internet, researching the history of these women, the horrors and injustices inflicted on them, and the decades of silence that followed. It comp When I worked at a small Midwestern liberal arts college, I made the acquaintance of a student whose Korean heritage fed her passion for the halmonis or “grandmothers” and encouraged her to make an extended visit to South Korea and participate in a Wednesday Demonstration. Her interest became mine, albeit less passionately, but I did spend time via the Internet, researching the history of these women, the horrors and injustices inflicted on them, and the decades of silence that followed. It compelled me to read Dai Sil Kim-Gibson’s Silence Broken: Korean Comfort Women and Comfort Women by Nora Okja Keller. White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht is a wonderful addition to my reading and a beautiful book. I fell in love with Hana and Emi. Both have such wonderful, captivating and heartbreaking stories. One sister, Hana, traded the life she knew to protect her younger sister. Emi, realizing this, lived a lifetime of shame because her sister gave her life for her. White Chrysanthemum brought to life not only “comfort women,” but the haenyeo, the South Korean women divers of the island of Jeju. I loved how the story began and ended with them.I highly recommend this book. I think it’s an important one to read. It’s also an emotional one. I can’t begin to recount the number of extraordinary scenes in this novel, the ones that angered me, the ones that sickened me beyond belief, and those filled with such beauty it made it all worthwhile.
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  • Cheryl
    January 1, 1970
    Author Mary Lynn Bracht is an American of Korean descent. While visiting her mother’s village in Korea, she learned the stories of the “comfort women”. These girls and young women were kidnapped and forced into brothels which served the Japanese military during World War II.Based on the accounts of some of the surviving women, Bracht began to research this topic. Her beautifully written debut novel tells the story of two sisters, Hana and Emi, who are separated when Hana is taken away by Japanes Author Mary Lynn Bracht is an American of Korean descent. While visiting her mother’s village in Korea, she learned the stories of the “comfort women”. These girls and young women were kidnapped and forced into brothels which served the Japanese military during World War II.Based on the accounts of some of the surviving women, Bracht began to research this topic. Her beautifully written debut novel tells the story of two sisters, Hana and Emi, who are separated when Hana is taken away by Japanese soldiers. Alternating between Hana’s story and Emi’s story, Bracht’s powerful, unforgettable, and heart wrenching work of historical fiction sheds light on a shameful part of Japanese military history. It’s a story about family bonds, courage, and the triumph of the human spirit which will stay with you long after you’ve finished the book.It was hard for me to put this book down because I wanted to learn the fate of both sisters. Some parts were very difficult to read, and left me with a deep sense of sadness. This outstanding work of historical fiction calls attention to the plight of girls and women during wartime— it’s a call for justice and an indictment of atrocities that are still being perpetrated today in places like Africa, Syria, Afghanistan and other locations.
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  • Nada
    January 1, 1970
    This book should come with a warning sign that says “stock up on tissue boxes before reading.”I would definitely place White Chrysanthemum on a book list for tear-jerkers. It was just so sad. I had to pause a few times, take a breather because I just couldn’t endure the sufferings.A historical fiction, set in Korea 1943 during the WW2, two sisters, Hana and Emi were separated when Hana was taken by the Japanese army. Told alternatively between the sisters, it was really hard for me to choose whi This book should come with a warning sign that says “stock up on tissue boxes before reading.”I would definitely place White Chrysanthemum on a book list for tear-jerkers. It was just so sad. I had to pause a few times, take a breather because I just couldn’t endure the sufferings.A historical fiction, set in Korea 1943 during the WW2, two sisters, Hana and Emi were separated when Hana was taken by the Japanese army. Told alternatively between the sisters, it was really hard for me to choose which sister's story I enjoyed more. Both were heartbreakingly beautiful.I had no idea about the war history between Korea and Japan, and the things Korean people had to deal with at those times. This was such an enlightenment for me and it was one of the things I have loved most about the book.I would warn you though, some events in the book could be defined as quite horrific. As much as I have enjoyed most of it; it was a bit brutal for my taste. I don’t think I handled it well and I don’t think I could read it again and undergo through all those triggered emotions – not all splendid, mind you.But recommend I would. It’s a really captivating story. The writing style is just impeccable and you can’t help but fall in love with the traditions of the Haenyeo women who make their living as divers in the Korean sea.
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  • Stephanie
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 StarsWhite Chrysanthemum, is a one of those well-written, meticulously researched historical fiction books that remind me of why I love reading this genre. While I have spent decades reading novels that take place in Europe during WWII and taken classes in college about WWII, I had no idea of the history of Korean women abducted by Japanese soldiers during WWII and forced into sexual slavery to be“comfort women.” This is without a doubt one of the most heartbreaking books that I’ve ever read 4.5 StarsWhite Chrysanthemum, is a one of those well-written, meticulously researched historical fiction books that remind me of why I love reading this genre. While I have spent decades reading novels that take place in Europe during WWII and taken classes in college about WWII, I had no idea of the history of Korean women abducted by Japanese soldiers during WWII and forced into sexual slavery to be“comfort women.” This is without a doubt one of the most heartbreaking books that I’ve ever read, but it is a story that deserves to be told in the hopes that history will stop repeating itself since sex slavery during war is not a thing of the past as the author makes mention in her notes at the end.  Mary Lynn Bracht did a magnificent job bringing the story to life of two Korean sisters, Hana and Emi in her debut novel. The story is told in alternating POVs from Hana during WWII and her younger sister Emi in 2011, so we get to hear both sister’s focus, pain, grief, shame, and sorrow.The story begins in 1943 on Jeju Island when Hana is 16 and Emi is only 9. Hana is a haenyeo woman along with her mother where the women of the island are considered the family providers since the women train in the coastal waters from a young age to free dive for seafood and other edibles from the sea that are later sold in the market. One day while diving, Hana sees a Japanese soldier heading to the beach where Emi is guarding their harvest, so she immediately swims to shore, hides her sister, lies that she is alone, and says she is an orphan to save her sister from being abducted. After all, shep promised her mother when Emi was born that she would always protect her, and she will fight to keep that promise.Hana is then taken from her family and transported to Manchuria. This begins unspeakable horrors for Hana. The chapters from Hana’s POV were more than heartbreaking since she is graphically beaten, abused, and repeatedly raped. I cried reading her story, but I was angry too. Just know that these chapters of her POV are grim and violent and often very disturbing, but I imagine that they are nothing like a real-life comfort woman would have experienced.  I loved Hana’s character; she was stronger and had much more courage than I think I would have had in the same situation. Even in the midst of the vile and evilness of her story, she was just a beautiful soul.Emi’s story began in 2011, and she was an old woman in her late 70s now. She was still a haenyeo having learned how to dive as soon as Hana was abducted so she was always by her mother’s side, which I thought was amazing at that age (and I did my research on haenyeo and they are still diving, and many dive well into their 80s!) She has lived through WWII and the Korean War, she has married and had 2 children, she is now a grandmother, but she has never seen Hana since the day Hana sacrificed herself to save her. This is a guilt and a shame that Emi has lived with her entire adult life, and she has never told anyone-not her now dead husband or her children about Hana and what happened to her.Yet, Emi has been attending yearly Wednesday Demonstrations (weekly protests that began in 1992 in Seoul by South Korean comfort women to demand the Japanese government acknowledge the war crimes, make apologies, punish those responsible, and make reparations-- these weekly demonstrations are still being held) in the hopes that she can find Hana or what happened to her. As Emi tells her story, she is leaving her island to attend the 1000th Wednesday Demonstration, and it is there that she finds the courage to face her past. Emi’s story was very poignant, and her journey was a special one, albeit a very sad one at times, that I’m glad that I was able to take too. I felt deeply for her. Reading her POV allows you to understand what a victim’s family lives with: the survivor’s guilt, the shame, the grief, and all those other feelings.Bracht’s writing is vivid and beautiful, and this story will leave you feeling broken hearted. There are moments of beauty in the novel and when you come across them, they are magnificent and to be treasured. I can also say that Bracht was fair in my opinion about the atrocities of war or at least as I know of them since she also points out in the novel of the war crimes committed not only by the Japanese in WWII but of other soldiers from other countries involved in WWII. There is no denying that WWII was a despicable war with atrocities committed by all sides. If you like historical fiction then I cannot recommend this highly enough. I’ve heard this called the “Korean Nightingale” to compare with Kristin Hannah’s excellent WWII novel The Nightingale, and I agree although the writing style is different. I think if you loved The Nightingale that you would enjoy this one! I, for one, cannot wait to read Bracht’s next book!**Thank you, NetGalley, G.P. Putnam's Sons, and Mary Lynn Bracht for an ARC copy in exchange for my fair and honest review. **
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  • Linda Zagon
    January 1, 1970
    MY REVIEW OF "WHITE CHRYSANTHEMUM" BY Mary Lynn Bracht"White Chrysanthemum" by Mary Lynn Bracht is a combination of fiction and historical fiction. The genres for the this story are Historical Fiction, General Fiction, and War Story.  This is a heavy  read about the evils and destruction of war on families and people., both women and men. The story takes place during World War Two, and brings up the history of Korea, and Japan's involvement during the war. It also involves other countries. The s MY REVIEW OF "WHITE CHRYSANTHEMUM" BY Mary Lynn Bracht"White Chrysanthemum" by Mary Lynn Bracht is a combination of fiction and historical fiction. The genres for the this story are Historical Fiction, General Fiction, and War Story.  This is a heavy  read about the evils and destruction of war on families and people., both women and men. The story takes place during World War Two, and brings up the history of Korea, and Japan's involvement during the war. It also involves other countries. The story also is written in the present time.The characters are described as complicated and complex as depicted by the events in the story. This is a story about evil times, and the evil things that happened to innocent people, which is often what happens in a war. Hana has lived in Japan occupied Korea as long as she can remember. Hana is a "haenyeo" a female diver of the seas as her mother. Hana's other responsibility is to watch out for her younger sister Emi.  Hana sees a Japanese soldier on the beach and hides her sister. Hana is captured. The characters hold deep dark secrets .In the present day, Emi, is an older woman, who has never told her two children about her sister and guilt. She is trying to remember and forgive  the past to move on.The author discusses the tragedy of war, and the use of Korean Comfort Women, women who were captured to satisfy the pleasure of the Japanese men. Many of these older women never received compensation or apologies from the Japanese government. Many of the difficulties in Korea after World War Two, and the division of the country and other countries involved.  Be warned this is a difficult book to read. Readers that like reading about War and  the effects of war might want to read this. I was left with many thoughts and a great deal to reflect about. I received a copy of this ARC for my honest review.
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  • Catie
    January 1, 1970
    Review copy provided by Putnam Books - February 2018Not a book that I would consider a pleasure read, but such an important subject matter! I had no idea the extent and magnitude of the Japanese takeover of Korea before and during WWII, especially the detrimental affect on Korean women. The author emotionally addresses the subject of the Korean comfort women who were raped and forced into prostitution for the Japanese soldiers. I absolutely fell in love with Hana and Emi’s story. Two sisters sep Review copy provided by Putnam Books - February 2018Not a book that I would consider a pleasure read, but such an important subject matter! I had no idea the extent and magnitude of the Japanese takeover of Korea before and during WWII, especially the detrimental affect on Korean women. The author emotionally addresses the subject of the Korean comfort women who were raped and forced into prostitution for the Japanese soldiers. I absolutely fell in love with Hana and Emi’s story. Two sisters separated at a young age, who tell their perspective stories one in 1943 (Hana) and one in the near past as an old woman (Emi). Heartbreaking, poetic and with so much emotion, this book was well worth the read. Upon completing, I’ve been finding myself, in a stupor, processing what I’ve read, with a thirst to read and discover more about this period in history that I know very little about. One book that I will be reading since completing this novel, is the non-fiction book, The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang. For those who pick up the book, don’t forget to read the author’s note at the end. Very poignant, and brings the subject matter into even sharper focus. Bracht also provides a page long list of further reading which looked intriguing! Favorite Quotes:“Sometimes, she has felt as though she was born into the world merely to suffer. People these days seem content to search for happiness in life. That is something her generation never fathomed, that happiness is a basic human right, but now it seems like a possibility.”
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  • Blodeuedd Finland
    January 1, 1970
    I get the story she wanted to tell, and yes it was good, but the rest was barely ok.Hana gets taken by the Japanese to become a Comfort woman, which is a sex slave. But I never truly had time to connect and every time I felt her plight I was taken away by another POV. Not that I wanted to dwell in the horror of the brothel, but honestly, she was hardly there that long it seemed. If you really wanted to tell a story, make it tough and hard to read.Then there was the omg so boring POV of her siste I get the story she wanted to tell, and yes it was good, but the rest was barely ok.Hana gets taken by the Japanese to become a Comfort woman, which is a sex slave. But I never truly had time to connect and every time I felt her plight I was taken away by another POV. Not that I wanted to dwell in the horror of the brothel, but honestly, she was hardly there that long it seemed. If you really wanted to tell a story, make it tough and hard to read.Then there was the omg so boring POV of her sister in 2011. She is still trying to find Hana and goes to demonstrations *yawns* And nothing happened and we had to suffer through the POV SO much.Then something else happens to Hana and that just seemed, come on. Really? It was just another attempt not to deal with the rough stuff.Life is hard, war is evil and here I should have felt more. It started off well and I was horrified, but then with the constant POV changes I was never in her head enough. You do not need to spare me author. The afterwards if about how rape is still a constant in war and that is true. I just wish this had truly been Hana's story.Oh and the ending sucked too.Ia m torn. I want to give it a 3 for Hana, but 1 for her sister's part. I do not want to give it a two either....no, it annoys me now. It could have been amazing. It fell short.
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  • Bonnye Reed
    January 1, 1970
    GNAB A tremendous amount of research has obviously gone into the foundation of this work, bringing to light the atrocities against women in the 20th century particularly, but over time, over the world, the brutality of male dominion over women and girls as a general response to war.Hana and Emi are Korean sisters living on Jeju Island in 1943. Jeju women had a distinct independence unusual in the world of women mid-twentieth century. Considered the family providers, these girls and women train f GNAB A tremendous amount of research has obviously gone into the foundation of this work, bringing to light the atrocities against women in the 20th century particularly, but over time, over the world, the brutality of male dominion over women and girls as a general response to war.Hana and Emi are Korean sisters living on Jeju Island in 1943. Jeju women had a distinct independence unusual in the world of women mid-twentieth century. Considered the family providers, these girls and women train from a young age to free dive coastal waters for seafood, seaweed, and other edibles from the deep, they are haenyeo women and much respected. Early morning for diving, clean seafoods on the shore and make way to the market, sell foodstuff in the afternoon. Even in winter this schedule was kept and if any diver were disabled the others would try to make up the difference. You didn't let your friends go hungry. When Hana is 16 and Emi but 9 and still a weak swimmer so doing shore duty guarding the harvest from gulls and crabs, Hana surfaces to see a Japanese soldier on the beach, approaching a point where Emi will be easily sighted by him. Hana swims frantically to shore and diverts the soldier, getting herself captured but keeping Emi safely hidden. Thus begins the nightmare of captivity and enforced duty as a 'comfort woman' for Chinese and Japanese soldiers as Hana is transported into Manchuria under armed guard. On Jeju Island Hana is never heard from again, never spoken of even as the family grows to include Emi's son and daughter, Hyoung and YoonHui.Alternating within this story we have Emi's story told from the focus point of 2011. Emi and her best friend JinHee are still Haenyeo women, still diving most days though in their 70's. And Emi is still silent about her sister's loss, still guilty that that sacrifice was made for her own safety. Until she attends the 1000th Wednesday Demonstration in Seoul while visiting her adult children. The Wednesday Demonstrations are an effort to find justice from the Japanese government for the war crimes committed against Korean women and girls. And the statue placed on that day to mark the 1000th anniversary is of a young girl, a 16 year old image of - Hana. in Korean lore a white chrysanthemum is a symbol of mourning, the yellow chrysanthemum represents Japan's imperial family's power. I received a free electronic copy of this fiction based on fact historical novel from Netgalley, Mary Lynn Bracht, and G. P. Putnam's Sons in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. Pub date Jan 30, 2018G. P. Putnam's Sons
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  • Laurie
    January 1, 1970
    In 1943, sixteen year old Hana is happy with her life as a newly fledged haenyeo woman, free diving for abalone, urchins, oysters, and more in the waters of Jeju, a small island off by what is now South Korea. All her life, Korea has been under Japanese occupation. Her people are required to speak Japanese and obey the Japanese soldiers. It’s a hard life, but her family is happy. Then one day as she is swimming in to the shore, she sees a Japanese soldier making his way down the beach, where her In 1943, sixteen year old Hana is happy with her life as a newly fledged haenyeo woman, free diving for abalone, urchins, oysters, and more in the waters of Jeju, a small island off by what is now South Korea. All her life, Korea has been under Japanese occupation. Her people are required to speak Japanese and obey the Japanese soldiers. It’s a hard life, but her family is happy. Then one day as she is swimming in to the shore, she sees a Japanese soldier making his way down the beach, where her little sister sits, watching their catch, hidden by some large rocks. It’s only a matter of minutes before he discovers Emi, and young girls are frequently taken by the soldiers, taken to be ‘comfort women’ in military run brothels. Hana runs to the beach, allowing herself to be taken instead. Thus begins her life in hell; life as a sex slave, raped over and over again by Japanese soldiers in a tiny room from which she’s rarely allowed out of. The story alternates point of views between Hana as she strives to find a way to escape, and Emi, in 2011, who has never forgotten her sister and has never stopped looking for her. Her life, too, has been miserable; Korea’s constant state of occupation and war has not made life easy for anyone. Now she comes to Seoul, to see her grown children and to attend a Wednesday Demonstration- the weekly protest aimed at getting justice from Japan for the sex slave business they were in. She comes, hoping against hope to see her sister. Her children have no idea that their aunt was a sex slave; it shocks them when Emi finally tells them. The story is, frankly, horrific. But while this volume is fiction, these things really happened to the people of Korea- and the other countries that were under Japanese occupation during this period. The book is really hard to read, because of the subject matter and the verisimilitude of the scenes of sexual violence, but it’s so well written that I just couldn’t put it down. My heart ached for Hana, and for Emi, too. Excellent book, five stars, but could be very triggering for victims of sexual violence.
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  • Sara
    January 1, 1970
    Dear Ms. Bracht, thank you for this story.My heart is totally broken. This book covers a lesser-known piece of history that I never knew existed but that I am so glad I have been made aware of. The story of innocent girls who were stolen from their homes without warning to "service" Japanese soldiers during their country's occupation of Korea before/during/after World War II is so so so important. You know exactly what I mean by "service." What you may not know is the brutality and utter inhuman Dear Ms. Bracht, thank you for this story.My heart is totally broken. This book covers a lesser-known piece of history that I never knew existed but that I am so glad I have been made aware of. The story of innocent girls who were stolen from their homes without warning to "service" Japanese soldiers during their country's occupation of Korea before/during/after World War II is so so so important. You know exactly what I mean by "service." What you may not know is the brutality and utter inhumanity that came along with this servicing. Girls like Hana and Keiko and what may possibly be hundreds of thousands of other Korean (among other ethnic and regional groups) girls and women were treated as sub-humans. Their feelings and their wants, their mental, physical and emotional states all meant absolutely nothing to anyone once they were forcibly removed from their homes and their families. They were treated as less than nothing, all for the sake of Japanese soldiers who wanted one last "comfort" before going to the front lines to fight in the war.You will get chills reading this and not the good kind. You will be horrified by the crimes committed by these monsters upon these young girls, some not even teenagers. I won't forget Hana or Emi any time soon. I won't forget their pain and their sacrifices, simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Their spirits will stay with me and will remind me of their struggles. They will be recognized and remembered, even if the Japanese and Korean governments refuse to speak their names and their truths. Thank you to the publishers for an opportunity to read this book in advance. Thank you Mary Lynn Bracht for writing this incredibly important book.
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  • Maureen Timerman
    January 1, 1970
    The author lets us get up close and personal with two sisters, Hana and Emi, and when the story begins they live a good life in South Korea. Their mother and Hana are female divers in the local sea, and earn a living capturing the fresh seafood.All this ideal life comes to a tragic end when Hana is taken by the Japanese, and life as she knew it ceases to exist. The author then takes us into the realities of war and human sex slaves, the part of war that tends to be swept under rug.We later learn The author lets us get up close and personal with two sisters, Hana and Emi, and when the story begins they live a good life in South Korea. Their mother and Hana are female divers in the local sea, and earn a living capturing the fresh seafood.All this ideal life comes to a tragic end when Hana is taken by the Japanese, and life as she knew it ceases to exist. The author then takes us into the realities of war and human sex slaves, the part of war that tends to be swept under rug.We later learn how Emi has been affected her whole life from growing up from the innocent four-year-old, to an elderly woman. Through it all she continues to search for her missing sister.We soon learn the meaning of the title of the book, and why they are A story that needs to be told, and with the people we will remember, and dark time in history, and we hope not to be repeated.I received this book through Net Galley and Penguin Group Putman Publishing, and was not required to give a positive review.
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  • Smbergin
    January 1, 1970
    I loved White Chrysanthemums, but it won't be for everyone. It's graphic and disturbing descriptions of sexual and emotional abuse are at times hard to push through, but add to its authenticity and give the characters incredible depth. The portrayal of the brave and fiercely independent haenyeo women who supported themselves and their families by diving into the sea to gather and sell edible treasures, was captivating. This story introduced me to another dimension of wartime evil, the capturing I loved White Chrysanthemums, but it won't be for everyone. It's graphic and disturbing descriptions of sexual and emotional abuse are at times hard to push through, but add to its authenticity and give the characters incredible depth. The portrayal of the brave and fiercely independent haenyeo women who supported themselves and their families by diving into the sea to gather and sell edible treasures, was captivating. This story introduced me to another dimension of wartime evil, the capturing of girls and young women to serve as "comfort women" for the troops. The story is told in alternating perspectives, the girl kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery, and the sister left behind. Readers who enjoyed Amanda Lindhout's A House in the Sky should run not walk to the nearest bookstore to pick this one up.I received a complimentary, review copy of White Chrysanthemums in exchange for my candid review.
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  • Tammy
    January 1, 1970
    White Chrysanthemum is a heartbreaking tribute to the Korean women who were forced to be "comfort women" during the Japanese occupation. The story is told from the viewpoints of Hana and her younger sister, Emi. Hana and Emi come from a long line of Haenyeos, women who dive to the depths of the sea to support their families. One day while diving, Hana is kidnapped by a Japanese soldier and forced into slavery as a comfort woman. That was the last day Emi ever saw her older sister. This story is White Chrysanthemum is a heartbreaking tribute to the Korean women who were forced to be "comfort women" during the Japanese occupation. The story is told from the viewpoints of Hana and her younger sister, Emi. Hana and Emi come from a long line of Haenyeos, women who dive to the depths of the sea to support their families. One day while diving, Hana is kidnapped by a Japanese soldier and forced into slavery as a comfort woman. That was the last day Emi ever saw her older sister. This story is a hard one to read because of the subject but beautifully written. Although Hana is a fictional character, I am still amazed at the strength of the women that endured this brutal abuse in real life.
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  • Adrienne
    January 1, 1970
    I shall never forget this book! The 'comfort women' of WWll is, unfortunately, a little known atrocity of war. My heart breaks for these poor young girls and women, stolen from their innocent lives and tortured into enduring unspeakable horrors, as sex slaves. I knew women were treated as lesser beings but this brings light to a whole other level of inhumanity....one that we all should know about and keep it from ever reoccurring.4.5 stars
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  • Janette Mcmahon
    January 1, 1970
    A well written historical fiction novel of the Korean comfort woman during WWII. The author describes the horrors the Japanese soldiers inflicted on the kidnapped women and their fates. Recommend to readers of women's historical fiction.
  • Carolyn
    January 1, 1970
    Heartbreaking and beautifully written. Some fairly graphic and disturbing scenes which were needed, I think, to tell the story fully but were very hard to read. I was not familiar with the history of Korea so that was interesting as well (and very sad).
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  • Kara
    January 1, 1970
    I'm in a weird place with this book. Objectively, I realize it was well-written and shines a light on a horrible thing that was done to women from many different nations during the Japanese occupation of WW2. I'd honestly never heard about "comfort women" before reading this book, and that's not a good thing. I'm not proud of it either. And I feel like books like this can help spread that knowledge and the horrific atrocities done to these women for many, many years.But. I can't say I enjoyed th I'm in a weird place with this book. Objectively, I realize it was well-written and shines a light on a horrible thing that was done to women from many different nations during the Japanese occupation of WW2. I'd honestly never heard about "comfort women" before reading this book, and that's not a good thing. I'm not proud of it either. And I feel like books like this can help spread that knowledge and the horrific atrocities done to these women for many, many years.But. I can't say I enjoyed this book. Though it's not the type of book that many would enjoy reading, I don't think, because of the events it covers. It's awful. Not the book itself, but I was miserable reading this and all the violence and tragedy that occurred in the pages. Graphic rape, beatings, kidnappings, torture, murder, etc.--it's all in these pages, and most of it is written in a visual way for the reader to picture it just right. And I suppose that's on purpose, and I'm not saying it shouldn't be either. But where does that leave me as a reviewer? This is one of the times where the professional reviewers would tell me to keep my emotions out of it, I guess, so I'm rating it 4 stars, but not because I enjoyed reading this. It was one of the most depressing things I've ever put my eyes on. Honestly. Oh, but I must mention, the comparisons to Memoirs of a Geisha? GTFOH with that. Look, I like both books; in fact, Memoirs is one of my favorite books of ALL-TIME. But you cannot compare two books and say they are similar because they are: 1: Both about Asian women; 2: about sisters being separated; 3: set during wartime; 4: even remotely thinking that "comfort women" and geisha are the same--they are NOT. And that's it. Memoirs of a Geisha is a chronicle of one women's life before, after, and as a geisha, with a little romance involved. It's a sad book but it's not like this. And I want you to be prepared before reading this. I don't want readers going in thinking they are going to get a book like Memoirs because you will be incredibly disappointed.The writing is great, with the dual POVs written incredibly well. Different voices, both strong, tell the stories of Emi and her sister, Hana, who is kidnapped on a Jeju Island beach one day while protecting her sister from a Japanese soldier. Hana's POV is about her kidnapping, her time as a woman forced into sexual slavery, her multiple escape attempts, and finally her life afterward. Emi's POV is mostly of her as an elderly woman trying to find out what happened to her sister and dealing with the trauma of the kidnapping that still haunts her in old age, though there are some flashbacks to the Korean War and what happened to her during it.Like I mentioned, major trigger warnings for graphic scenes of rape, kidnapping, murder, and beating. It's a book that I feel deserves to be read, but it's not for everyone, and the cover sort of makes it seem like it won't be that traumatic. I'm telling you that IT IS. It's also important to mention that White Chrysanthemum also presents a lovely homage to the haenyeo, which are the free-diving ladies of Jeju Island in Korea. Hana, her mother, and sister are all haenyeo; in fact, Hana is training as a haenyeo when she is kidnapped by a Japanese soldier. Emi lives out her life as a haenyeo as well. There are some nice diving scenes interspersed throughout the narrative for the reader to really get a feel for what living as a haenyeo is like. I highly recommend White Chrysanthemum, but with reservations. Know what you are getting yourself into before you read it.
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  • Good Book Fairy
    January 1, 1970
    My Review: 4.5 stars For more like this visit www.goodbookfairy.comWhite Chrysanthemum is a difficult book to say I loved, because the events that this book covers are heart wrenching. I even feel weird saying that I enjoyed it, because who can enjoy reading a novel that’s core revolves around a horrible event that was filled with rape, kidnapping & abuse? This novel unearths the parts of human history that aren’t covered in your typical high school textbook. That being said, I would highly My Review: 4.5 stars For more like this visit www.goodbookfairy.comWhite Chrysanthemum is a difficult book to say I loved, because the events that this book covers are heart wrenching. I even feel weird saying that I enjoyed it, because who can enjoy reading a novel that’s core revolves around a horrible event that was filled with rape, kidnapping & abuse? This novel unearths the parts of human history that aren’t covered in your typical high school textbook. That being said, I would highly recommend White Chrysanthemum, although it may not be the book for everyone. It’s a touching story of two sisters’ pain and sorrow that they lived through and forever carried with them.Bracht’s writing is visual; the story truly comes to life in your head with a scenic sensibility. The descriptions of Hana and Emi’s role as haenyeo are beautiful. I didn’t know anything about the free-diving ladies of Jeju Island in Korea, and was surprised that this tradition continued under the changing of regimes. In researching haenyo after I completed the novel, Smithsonian magazine states that about 80% of the remaining haenyeo are over sixty years old. There are now about 4,600 haenyeo compared to 26,000 in 1960.The book is broken into two POVs, each belonging to one of the sisters. The chapters belonging to Hana were hard to read. The brutal force she experienced as a “comfort woman” in Manchuria was heartbreaking. The graphic and disturbing descriptions of the abuse, both emotional and sexual, are difficult to get through, but it gives the character extraordinary depth. Although Emi wasn’t a comfort woman, her chapters dealt with the guilt of being ‘saved’, the pain of a family torn apart and living a life under the brutal control of the Japanese. Emi has her own demons to deal with as her life was never really her own as she searched for her sister.This book was extremely well researched, with no small detail going unnoticed. As a history buff, this gave the story an extra layer of authenticity that made it come alive. I highly recommend White Chrysanthemum, but with reservations if you have any problems reading scenes of rape, murder, beating and kidnapping. This is one of those books that is hard to stop once you start, so the warning of the abuse is worth noting.This is one heck of a novel for a debut and I look forward to what’s next from Bracht. I’ve attached a photo, also from Smithsonian magazine, of current day haenyeo.
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  • Amy Morgan
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you Edelweiss for my review copy of this book. White Chrysanthemum is a tale about two sisters Hana and Emi during Japan occupied Korea in WWII. Hana and Emi live on Jeju Island in Korea. The story begins with Hana's induction ceremony into the Haenyeo way of life. A beautiful and peaceful way of life these fascinating women suoport their families by diving for what they can sell at the marketplace to feed their own families. It is a simple and not always easy way of life but it is a tradi Thank you Edelweiss for my review copy of this book. White Chrysanthemum is a tale about two sisters Hana and Emi during Japan occupied Korea in WWII. Hana and Emi live on Jeju Island in Korea. The story begins with Hana's induction ceremony into the Haenyeo way of life. A beautiful and peaceful way of life these fascinating women suoport their families by diving for what they can sell at the marketplace to feed their own families. It is a simple and not always easy way of life but it is a tradition and one these women are proud and grateful to continue. Emi longs for the day when she can join her sister and her mother in the sea instead of watching from the shore. Hana tells her that day will be here before she knows it and that she will standing beside Emi when she is finally old enough to join the haenyeo. One day while diving Hana sees a Japanese soldier moving towards where her sister is hidden on the beach. She quickly makes her way to shore remembering her mother's words that she must always protect her sister. Hana sacrifices herself and is taken into captivity by the soldiers and is forced into life of sexual slavery as a comfort woman.The story is told from two alternating points of view from Hana during her time in captivity and Emi mostly as an older woman who has spent her life searching for her sister. I am sad to say before reading this I did not know about the comfort women during WWII or about any of the things that happened to these poor souls. This was a beautifully written and heartbreakingly sad tale so I feel weird saying that I loved this book but I really did. Extremely well done and I will be highly recommending this book!
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  • Scott County Library System
    January 1, 1970
    Scott County Library System librarian Christine Barth is a reviewer for Library Journal. This is her review for White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht published Nov. 15, 2017. Newcomer Bracht's novel draws readers into a seaside paradise where haenyeo (female sea divers) follow the rhythm of the ocean tide to maintain an illusion of independence during the Japanese occupation of Korea. The illusion is shattered on Jeju Island in 1943 when a Japanese soldier takes 16-year-old Hana from her nine- Scott County Library System librarian Christine Barth is a reviewer for Library Journal. This is her review for White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht published Nov. 15, 2017. Newcomer Bracht's novel draws readers into a seaside paradise where haenyeo (female sea divers) follow the rhythm of the ocean tide to maintain an illusion of independence during the Japanese occupation of Korea. The illusion is shattered on Jeju Island in 1943 when a Japanese soldier takes 16-year-old Hana from her nine-year-old sister Emi's side to become a "comfort woman" -- a mild name for Hana's brutal experience as a sex slave for the occupying military. Almost 70 years later, Emi travels to Seoul from her tiny island, searching for answers and closure regarding a sister she barely remembers. Bracht's breathless pace in alternating chapters between Hana and Emi provides a suspenseful and eye-opening historical work reminiscent of Christina Baker Kline's Orphan Train, Jamie Ford's Songs of Willow Frost, and Lisa Wingate's Before We Were Yours. VERDICT: In this story of a community obliterated by war but saved by the strength of will of generations of women, Bracht humanizes tragedy while highlighting important social issues. Once they devour this book, readers will be looking for more information on the Korean comfort women.
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