A Single Square Picture: A Korean Adoptee's Search for Her Roots

A Single Square Picture: A Korean Adoptee's Search for Her Roots

by Katy Robinson
     
 

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One day she was Kim Ji-yun, growing up in Seoul, Korea. The next day she was Catherine Jeanne Robinson, living with her new American family in Salt Lake City, Utah. Twenty years later, Katy Robinson returned to Seoul in search of her birth mother--and found herself an American outsider in her native land. What transpired in this world--at once familiar and strange,

Overview

One day she was Kim Ji-yun, growing up in Seoul, Korea. The next day she was Catherine Jeanne Robinson, living with her new American family in Salt Lake City, Utah. Twenty years later, Katy Robinson returned to Seoul in search of her birth mother--and found herself an American outsider in her native land. What transpired in this world--at once familiar and strange, comforting and sad--left Katy conflicted, shattered, exhilarated, and moved in ways she never imagined.

A Single Square Picture is a personal odyssey that ascends to the universal, a story that will resonate with anyone who has ever questioned their place in the world--and had the courage to find the answers.

Author Biography: Katy Robinson is an award-winning journalist and speaker on adoption issues.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Katy Robinson. Berkley, $13.95 paper (304p) ISBN 0-425-18496-X "One day I was Kim Ji-yun growing up in Seoul, Korea; the next day I was Catherine Jeanne Robinson living in Salt Lake City, Utah." So begins this memoir from first-time author Robinson. Her tireless search for her birth parents is driven by her memories of them and the photo referred to in the title, a snapshot of Kim Ji-yun with her mother and grandmother taken only moments before the seven-year-old boarded a plane bound for Salt Lake City. Even memoir-saturated readers will be drawn in by her description of this devastating leave-taking: "[My grandmother] hands me a roll of my favorite crackers and the folder of paper dolls my mother bought me after our last trip to the bathhouse. She gives me a slight push forward... I do as instructed and follow the blue cap and clicking heels away from my mother and grandmother." When Robinson returns to Seoul as an adult (having spent a happy if monotonous childhood in Utah), she easily reconnects with her father and half-siblings. But the trail to her mother turns cold several times before Robinson realizes that she may never know for sure whether her mother died in a car accident or relocated to Chicago. Meanwhile, she struggles to bridge the massive cultural gap separating her from her father. She ultimately decides that her true family consists of her patient American husband and her spunky adoptive mother. Fortunately, the journey to this unsurprising conclusion is a fascinating labor of love, populated by oddball relatives and fueled by banquets of carefully described Korean food. (Aug. 6) Forecast: Readers of Helie Lee's In the Absence of the Sun (Forecasts, Apr. 1) and other Asian-American homecoming memoirs will gravitate to this. Robinson's tale is more accessible than Lee's, however, and the paperback price could make it an attractive reading club choice. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Luminously written, sensitively nuanced memoir by Idaho-based journalist Robinson about the rediscovery of her Korean family. Adopted as a seven-year old by Americans, the author loved her new mother, but growing up in Utah, the only Asian in her school, she felt cut off from her roots. Mixing memories of her American childhood with accounts of her present activities, Robinson describes how, on a business trip to Seoul 20 years after she left, she decided to look for her birth family. She had a photograph of her mother and grandmother taken at the airport before she left, a few memories, and little else to guide her. At the orphanage that arranged her adoption, she learned that her father was still alive, though now in his 70s. They met briefly; he shared photos and memories and told her she was his favorite child. Pleased by his response, Robinson arranged to spend a year at Korea University with her husband. Her father was very protective of the couple, but his daughter’s feelings fluctuated as she learned more about him. He was a notorious womanizer; Kim Ji-yun (Robinson’s Korean name) was the result of an affair with her mother while he was married with young children; and he had more children with the woman he married after that affair. Robinson met an elder half-brother and -sister, offspring of his first marriage, and his first wife made the American feel at home though she disliked her ex-husband. Learning the truth about her mother was difficult; family members told different stories, so Robinson didn’t know whether she was dead or married and living in Chicago. Though she had hoped solving the mystery of her family would be easier, the author leaves comforted by the connectionsshe’s made and accepting of her mother’s decision to have her adopted. Robinson vividly describes contrasts between cultures as she realistically details a quest inevitably complicated by the contradictions and contrariness of human nature.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780425184967
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
08/06/2002
Edition description:
BERKLEY TR
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
5.24(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.82(d)

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