Korean American Books

Summaries and reviews of fiction and nonfiction books by Korean American authors,
books about Korean Americans and Korea, and Korean literature in English translation,
including some academic works and a sampling on the Korean War

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Tell Me Everything You Don't Remember: The Stroke that Changed My Life, by Christine Hyung-Oak Lee

Enhancing an already enthralling beginning about the surprising facts of a young woman’s stroke at age 33, the writing in this book is what continues to beguile and capture, elevating the work to a mesmerizing memoir of a condition and a long recovery that changed her life, and the lives of many others as well. The author’s sense of detail and her reference to her journals of those days, combined with impressive research that only adds to the narrative, makes the memoir a sensitive portrayal of the condition of stroke and its result of making the brain and its memories a jumble. She writes of her experience not merely as a metaphor for her own psychological condition where the stroke made a dividing line of before and after, but also as a journey of exploration and compassionate understanding of the fraught emotional delicacies contained in that before and after, specifically the loss of her marriage, integrating her childhood history of violence, a core change in personality, of becoming a mother, discovering her body in health, and finding love anew. The book is organized like memory—fragments of scenes that appear and reappear, information and deep reflection salient to those fragments, and overall a sense of artfulness in the manipulation of time as an apt way to organize a story that threw the narrator herself out of linear time. It is an honest, heartfelt and brave book, an absorbing read not just about the condition of stroke, but about identity and finding self-love.

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