From the Publisher
"[A] searing debut...[Mun] writes with lovely precision, lending a hallucinatory beauty to the bleak world she has created."
-People (four stars, "Pick of the Week")
"Emotionally upending...Mun relays it all with a jarring honesty that makes the book...impossible to forget."
"Gritty, riveting...Filled with soft and lovely descriptive touches...[Mun] zip[s] back and forth between despair and joy, between degradation and exhilaration."
"Remarkable...As the best novelists do, Mun has taken the essence of her personal experience and reshaped it into something original."
"Heartbreaking...We follow teenage runaway Joon as she navigates dark New York streets, and ultimately finds hope and the will to survive."
"Brilliant and authentic...Those who delight in the raw power of words have a new author to add to our libraries."
-Dallas Morning News
"Graceful, nearly transcendent...One of the most vivid and haunting novels I've read in years."
-San Diego Union- Tribune
"Beautiful...Illuminates a side of American life one is not likely to see elsewhere."
Mun's first novel is a 1980s urban odyssey in which Joon-Mee, a 12-year-old Korean-American, leaves her troubled Bronx family for the life of a New York City runaway. The novel follows Joon over six years, as she lives in a homeless shelter, finds work as an underage escort and a streetwalker, succumbs to drug addiction and petty crime, then tries to turn it all around. Along the way we meet a cast of addicts, grifters and homeless people, including Wink, a boisterous but vulnerable young street veteran ("I didn't even know they had boy prostitutes"); Knowledge, a friend who ropes Joon into helping steal her family's Christmas tree; and Benny, a drugged-up orderly and self-destructive love interest. Mun is careful not to lean on the '80s ambience, and Joon's voice, purged of self-pity, sounds clear and strong on every page. Individual scenes, including Joon's first john, her interview with an antagonistic employment counselor and her climactic encounter with a good-hearted former neighbor, are wonderfully written. Unfortunately, the novel's episodic structure prevents Joon's story from building to anything greater than its parts. (Jan.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This first novel covers about five years in the life of Korean American teenager Joon. The daughter of Korean immigrants, Joon runs away from home at age 13 after her mother self-destructs when she is abandoned by her husband. The story of Joon's descent into heroin addiction and prostitution on the streets of New York is grim but absolutely authentic. And as Joon witnesses the disintegration of some of her friends, the reader gets the feeling that she will be able to save herself. Three key scenes late in the book provide gripping climaxes of different sorts. One is an extended sequence in which Joon tries to sell Avon door to door to people who are mentally ill. Another is a chilling, drug-induced interlude with a boyfriend who cuts Joon. The last is a desperate encounter at an employment agency, where Joon must decide whether she's ready to stop running. Joon's wish to belong somewhere is reminiscent of the teenage girl's search for a home in Janet Fitch's White Oleander. A haunting debut by an author who made her own journey from runaway to writer; recommended for all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ9/15/08.]