Sunday, October 30, 2011
Book Review of #1 Bird and Fish by Adrienne Leslie
Author: Adrienne Leslie
Publisher: Perhaps an Indie publisher? Booksurge
Part of a Series: Bird and Fish duology; sequel Sea and Sky
Type of book: interracial relationship, Asian male/white female, Korean, Korean drama, New York, 2006
Year it was published: 2007
A bird and fish may fall in love but where will they live? Wendy Dale quietly shoulders her exhausting family demands: her daughter's battle with Crohn's disease, her husband's laissez-faire approach to their crumbling marriage and a self-absorbed mother grown more demanding after a series of strokes. By becoming an aging girly-girl, Wendy stifles her authentic self in clearance rack shopping, Martha Stewart housekeeping and smoothing the daily friction between black, white and Asian students who jockey for school control. Taking no joy from teaching or homemaking, the teacher longs simply to write a children's story honoring her father's unusual legacy.
Curmudgeon Hyun Jae Won is hiding in America. Talked into starting anew after the suicide of his parent approved wife, the artist turned entrepreneur seeks anonymity until the red-haired teacher unhinges his solitude by stumbling into his shop after her cell phone announces her diagnosis of cancer.
Forming a kinship for their dreams, Jae Won and Wendy soon discover while growing up over 6,000 miles apart they are more alike than different. As if tied by the mythical Red String, they must battle Korean and American relatives, unscrupulous art dealers and well-meaning friends. The couple will travel 200 miles from Manhattan's hurly burly Upper East Side to the pristine fishing grounds of upstate New York and back to the city's biggest borough strengthening their bond till Jae's fate calls him back to Seoul.
Bird and Fish daubs infidelity, passion, cancer survival and re-birth with the vibrancy of a Minhwah watercolor on a New York autumn canvas.
The characters fall on the flat side, that is nothing changes about them and they don't emote properly. I also don't believe that they're in love. Wendy Dale is extremely irritating as a character and despite what she says at the end, I have a hard time trusting her opinions and words. Why is she irritating? Again she strikes me as Miss Mary Sue who balances everything from watching Korean dramas to being a good teacher and mother, etc. etc. very unrealistic in my opinion. As mentioned before, I also don't buy her love towards Hyun Jae Won. At the end of a chapter, he holds her hand and instant love! Umm, it doesn't work that way. Today not many people believe in that kind of love. Heck, the classical novels are ones that have long term loves. Hyun Jae Won is a little too Americanized. I was with a Korean guy, and he was way different; he showed his care for me through actions rather than words. The characters are interesting, its just that the writer seemed to have no idea how to execute them properly thus we have a hodge-podge of everything.
Love changes everything.
The author wasn't sure what she wanted her book to be about so she threw everything popular or what people can relate to; looking for good clothes? Check the book. Looking for a guide towards New York:? Check the book. Looking for popular Korean dramas? Check the book. Like philosophy? Check the book.Unfortunately in the end the book becomes very unmanageable and thus for me it becomes ruined. It seemed more of a bubble pop book rather than something that I can thoroughly enjoy. It is written in third person omniscient point of view, yes, even with pointless secondary characters that have no bearing to the story.
Adrienne Leslie was raised in New York’s ethnic mélange called Brownville, Brooklyn. The first born in a large extended family, she was more comfortable in the company of adults than playmates. She attended New York City public schools till high school when dramatic changes in Leslie’s family’s economic status placed her in the exclusive Eron Preparatory School on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The easy life was short lived with the sudden death of her father. Using her tenacity to keep her family intact, Leslie graduated CW Post College earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and a Master of Science degree in Reading
In 1990, she began teaching advanced English classes in Little Neck when the Asian-American student population became the largest in the district. As a way to connect with her students, she kept up with the latest Korean melodramas which quickly grew into her own passion.
She is a self-taught Korean speaker and writer and has worked tirelessly for the Korean American educational community. An award winning grant writer, she was named English Educator of Excellence for the state of New York in 1996 and in 2003 was invited by the South Korean government as New York’s educational ambassador. Soon after, she wrote of her experiences for The Korea Times.
Often appearing on Korean television and radio both in the US and Korea, she recently enjoyed a season on Radio Korea as ‘The English Teacher.’ Leslie’s newly completed, Sea and Sky, the second of the stories in her Bird and Fish Trilogy is due out in 2010. As an insomniac who writes in the predawn hours, Ms. Leslie lives in eastern Queens with her husband and family dog.
It is very sad that I have to give this book 0 stars. I have already stated in this article what are the problems with the book: no warning of point of view changes, no chemistry between the characters, Miss Mary Sue irritating the hell out of me with her constant makeup and clothes and everyone thinking how she's la creme de la creme. (If the author could have authentically explored her personality, perhaps I might not have given such a low grade...) I am thinking that this book will not be known in twenty years. Why? Because of constant labels. Twenty years from now, TVs and all will be the age of dinosaurs. Clothes will exist (obviously) but there will be different popular companies. Also, the dramas that are mentioned there will be replaced by other Korean dramas and the old ones will no longer be remembered. (Perhaps Winter Sonata will be remembered as the one that started it all, but others no.)
0 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)