Review for “Every Falling Star” by Sungju Lee & Susan McClelland (2016)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
I’ll start this review with an advertisement…because if you’ve ever been curious about what life is like in North Korea, then this book is for you. It’s a surprisingly good YA story about one boy’s life and eventual escape from the famous country, without all of the extra fluff of today’s memoirs.
Sungju is the only child of a military leader of the North Korean army. Eventually the country’s leader, Kim il-Sung, dies and his family is forced to leave the capital city of Pyongyang. They move to a rural town, where a famine sets in and his parents leave him to find food. Desperate and alone, Sungju joins a local gang and begins to hustle on the streets for the basic comforts of life–food, shelter, clothing. It’s a really heartbreaking story, and one still ongoing, so there are parts that even Sungju can’t completely tell (several key details are left out to protect family members who still live in North Korea and may be in danger by him sharing this story). It’s also totally appropriate for a YA audience.
So many interesting tidbits here too. Did you know that they consider their leader to be a god? That you can be executed for stealing or attempting to escape? Wow!
Exceptional YA nonfiction story, definitely recommend!