Miles from Nowhere

Miles from Nowhere

by Nami Mun

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594483981
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/01/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 726,274
Product dimensions: 5.03(w) x 7.10(h) x 0.81(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Nami Mun was born in Seoul, South Korea, and grew up there and in Bronx, New York. She has worked as an Avon Lady, an activities coordinator for a nursing home, a photojournalist, and a criminal investigator. After earning her GED, she graduated from UC Berkeley, and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan. A recipient of a Pushcart Prize, she has published in numerous journals including the 2007 Pushcart Prize anthology, The Iowa Review, Tin House, Evergreen Review, Witness, and other journals. She currently lives in Chicago.

What People are Saying About This

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."
-Boston Globe

"Gritty, riveting...Filled with soft and lovely descriptive touches...[Mun] zip[s] back and forth between despair and joy, between degradation and exhilaration."
-Chicago Tribune

"Remarkable...As the best novelists do, Mun has taken the essence of her personal experience and reshaped it into something original."
-Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"Heartbreaking...We follow teenage runaway Joon as she navigates dark New York streets, and ultimately finds hope and the will to survive."
-Glamour

"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."
-The Believer

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION
When Joon was just eight years old her parents fled Korea for the grit of 1980s Bronx, New York. But after a few years in the United States, as Joon teeters on the brink of adolescence, her parents’ marriage crumbles under the weight of her father’s infidelity; he has left the family, and mental illness has rendered her mother nearly catatonic. Left with her mother’s unbearable silence as her only company, Joon, at the age of thirteen, strikes out on her own.

The next five years in Joon’s life offer a harrowing tour of a life lived on society’s margins as she moves from a homeless shelter to an escort club, through struggles with addiction, to jobs selling newspapers and cosmetics, committing petty crimes, and finally toward something resembling hope. It’s the story of a young woman who is at once tough and vulnerable, world-weary and naive, faced with insurmountable odds and yet fiercely determined to survive.

Rendered in spare but deeply evocative prose, Miles from Nowhere is an unforgettable debut from award-winning writer Nami Mun. A raw and blisteringly honest tale of surviving on ones own terms, it overflows with rare moments of beauty, moments that speak to the heart of the human experience.



ABOUT NAMI MUN

Nami Mun was born in Seoul, South Korea, and grew up there and in Bronx, New York. She has worked as an Avon Lady, an activities coordinator for a nursing home, a photojournalist, and a criminal investigator. After earning her GED, she graduated from UC Berkeley, and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan. A recipient of a Pushcart Prize, she has published in numerous journals including the 2007 Pushcart Prize anthology, The Iowa Review, Tin House, Evergreen Review, Witness, and other journals. She currently lives in Chicago.



A CONVERSATION WITH NAMI MUN
Q. Your novel has many autobiographical elements. Like Joon, your main character, you're a Korean–American from New York City who was a teenage runaway, a dance hostess, and an Avon Lady who sold cosmetics door to door. Joon is also at times a drug addict, a sex worker, and a petty criminal. How closely is Joon's story based on your own?

Not very. If I had to put it in numbers, I'd say maybe one percent of the book is autobiographical. Yes, I left home at a young age but I chose not to write about the actual events of my own life as a runaway. I kept those actual events in a "reserve" of sorts and used my knowledge of them to strengthen the narrative artifice I was creating.

Take the chapter "Avon" for example, in which Joon sells cosmetics door–to–door. I once had a job selling jewelry out of a briefcase door to door. I think I was maybe fourteen or fifteen then. I would walk down streets and enter businesses and do my best to get someone, anyone, to buy a gold necklace or what have you from me. One place I went into was a Chinese restaurant. It was completely empty of customers, so I walked to the back, into the kitchen, and mimed and gestured my sales pitch to a staff of Chinese men who spoke little English. I held a necklace out for them to see. One of them took it from my hand, looked at it closely, and without much warning, tossed it into a sizzling wok. I was stunned. The man said to me, "Fake? Turn green," again and again, while stir–frying the necklace with these very long chopsticks. They all stood around the stove and watched the oil bubble, and I think I prayed to every god I knew back then, begging for that necklace to stay gold. After about a minute or so, the man plucked the necklace out, studied it again, and said words to his co–workers, who nodded in agreement. Luckily, for me, it didn't turn green.

I'm pretty sure it was my one and only sale, but when that man paid me money, I remember feeling proud of myself for having rolled with the punches—for having kept my cool about the stir–frying thing. For a split second I thought I could make it. That even though I had a few things stacked against me, I could work and make money and eventually make it off the streets

That was a really good day, and that moment has stayed near me for decades. But I didn't write about it in the book. Instead I contained the moment and wrote completely fictional events and dialogue to better explore and express just how complex a feeling like pride and hope can be for someone who's on the verge hopelessness as Joon is in "Avon." Incidentally, I also didn't write about actual events that occurred while I sold Avon door to door either. Basically, my approach to this material was inspired by Hemingway's iceberg principle: for every part of the iceberg we see, seven–eighths of it is underwater, strengthening the iceberg.

Q. How did you research those aspects of your story that you weren't familiar with personally?

I watched numerous documentaries that dealt with submerged population groups, the more well–known ones being Children Underground, Streetwise, and Dark Days. I also read essays and articles, not just about runaways and throwaways, but about other underground groups, such as squatters, sex workers, dance hostesses, girls and women in detention, and drug dealers, etc., as well as issues, such as child abuse, drug abuse, suicide rate amongst runaways, violence within male sex workers, and the criminal court system of New York City, etc.

Q. Other jobs you've held include photographer, waitress, bartender, administrative assistant, and copy writer. After completing your undergraduate studies at University of California at Berkeley, you, at the age of thirty, decided to work as criminal investigator. How did you find yourself in that line of work?

An acquaintance recommended me for the position. I loved that job almost immediately. I can't say why exactly except that it scratched a certain itch inside my brain. On an average day, I got to interact with diverse groups of people: dealers, gang members, sheriffs, attorneys, heroin addicts, store owners, inmates, barbers, etc. and I got to hear all of their voices. I loved tracking down witnesses and conducting interviews in unusual locations. I loved getting bits of information about people and trying to create portraits from them, or gathering fractured eyewitness accounts of an incident and attempting to envision a fuller picture. And I loved reading all the documents (police reports, medical examiner's report, witness statements, etc.), analyzing the evidence, and re–envisioning all that went down before, during, and after the criminal incident. Come to think of it, what I loved about investigations isn't so different from what I love about writing, which is to close the eyes and clearly see scenes with dialogue, action, and setting that might reveal something much deeper about the people at stake.

Q. You once had an encounter on the New York City subway that had an impact on your writing. Did you know back then that you wanted to be a writer? Was becoming a writer a lifelong ambition for you?

No, writing has not been a life–long ambition, but I can say that, for as long as I can remember, I've always had an intense desire to connect with people. That's what writing and reading is, for me—a chance to quietly, secretly share a moment with someone. I didn't start writing seriously until 2000, when I began this book, but I learned about the power of writing some years ago. During my runaway years, I kept a journal. I'd write down the events of that day, mostly while riding the subways. Once I sat next to a woman, and I could tell she was reading over my shoulder. I'd write a sentence and she'd make tiny sounds—of either disapproval or dismay. The more I wrote, the louder and more demonstrative she became, saying things outright sometimes and shaking her head. What I remember most is how she never addressed me directly. I don't think she even saw me, really. Her eyes stayed on my journal and I got the sense that even if I didn't exist in her world, my words could.At some point in my late teens, when I began trying to live a "normal" life (a real job, a real home, etc.) I decided to destroy all of the journals. To put it succinctly, I didn't want anyone to know my past. Including me, perhaps. Decades later, when I started this book, I regretted having destroyed my journals, but truthfully, I think not having a factual record of my past is what compelled me, maybe even forced me, to recreate it as fiction.

Q. Were you surprised by the success of your work – the stories you've published, all the prizes and recognition you've won, and now having your novel published?

I'm always surprised when anything good happens to me. I'm also surprised when bad things happen too. I guess that means I'm easily surprised. Getting my stories published was amazing. Getting the Pushcart Prize was a little too amazing. When I received the news over the phone, I made the person on the other end repeat the news maybe three times because the information just refused to sink in. When I heard about the book sale, I'm pretty sure all of the major organs in my body stopped running.

Q. Why did you choose Miles from Nowhere for a title?

A writer friend of mine told me, after having read one of my stories, that she had no idea that kids from New York could simply run away to another borough and never be found. I thought about this, how runaways could exist in New York and yet not exist. How they could be so close to their homes, geographically, and yet be so far removed. How New York is a city of Everything, and yet you can get lost within it and feel as though you're living in complete desolation. So there's Joon: so close to home and surrounded by everything, and yet she's completely lost and miles from where she needs to be. The title's also a song by Cat Stevens, whom I quote in the book.

Q. Among other things, your book is a story of sheer survival by a character the reader comes to know intimately and care for deeply. Can it also be seen as a coming of age novel, a quest narrative, or an adventure of sorts?

Because of how Joon develops and matures throughout the book, I could see how one might think of Miles as a coming of age novel. That said, I'm not sure if I'd recommend it to too many adolescents. And I suppose Miles could also be a quest narrative because Joon does begin a journey to find a better life, but the terms "quest narrative" and "adventure" makes me think of books like Lord of the Rings or Don Quixote, both of which differ greatly from my book. For example, my book doesn't have wizards or elves, and very little chivalry, unfortunately.

Q. Some very well–regarded writers have already praised your work highly. Janet Fitch, the author of White Oleander, wrote, "Suspenseful, funny, painful, and poetic, Nami Mun's debut shows a talent for close observation and a prose which fills the grit of street life with flashes of gold." Peter Ho Davies, the author of The Welsh Girl, called it "a starkly beautiful book, shot through with grace and lit by an off–hand street poetry." Who are your favorite authors? Which writers inspire you?

Recently my creative writing students asked me to give them a top–ten list of my favorite books. I can't seem to narrow it down to any fewer than 67. If that doesn't prove my inability to pick favorites, I don't know what does. But…here is just a sample of writers I admire, in no particular order: Hemingway, Kafka, Chekhov, Bowles, Flaubert, Melville, Nathanael West, Hubert Selby Jr., Robert Stone, Lydia Davis, Denis Johnson, Jayne Anne Phillips, James Ellroy, Richard Price, William T. Vollmann…

Q. You were born in South Korea and raised there and in the Bronx. In your novel, Joon's parents are broken by their experience as immigrants, although in different ways. Joon, on the other hand, undergoes a quintessentially American experience as a runaway. To what extent do you view this novel as an immigrant's story or part of "immigrant literature"?

To me, the mother's story and Joon's story share an important connection; they're both about leaving behind a home in search for something better. Joon, like her mother, tries to stay afloat in her new surroundings—amongst new people, new rules, new temptations. The language Joon hears on the streets differs from the language at home, and even representations of God and religion are somewhat foreign to her. So, yes, the parents and Joon are immigrants in the strict sense of the word, but to categorize this book as "immigrant literature" based on the characters' circumstances alone might be slightly misleading because the majority of the narrative focuses on Joon experiencing a kind of alienation that, I think, a lot of people feel, no matter their country of origin.

Q. For much of the novel, Joon is quite passive – letting others have their way because it's easier, overly involving herself in others' lives rather than her own, and accepting, even craving, repeated failure because it's what she has come to know. What changes her consciousness and begins to turn her life around?

A series of things compel Joon to turn her life around, and every single one of them, to me, seems valid. Finding herself in jail, learning about her mother's death, seeing Tati land in prison for murder, witnessing Benny's downward spiral, and hearing about the fates of both Knowledge and Wink—all of these things accumulate within Joon, and over time, she begins to understand that she needs act—to do something to change the course of her path if she doesn't want to end up like them. Ironically, her first act of true commitment to herself—true pro–activity (if that's even a word)—is to sit still and not leave Mr. Flukinjer's office.

So, in "At the Employment Agency," she forges a new path. This path leads to Mr. Flukinjer giving her a hug, and this hug gives her that all–important push toward a life she's been searching for. Her reaction to his hug is completely visceral, emotional and unselfconscious and shows how she's changed over the course of the book—from when Wink gives her a hug just outside the shelter, which she can barely receive.

Q. At the end of the novel, Joon feels not grief but guilt over her relationship with her mother. That guilt "took on its own shape and smell and nestled in the pit of my body, and it would sleep and play and walk with me for decades to come." Would you say that this guilt is a dominant theme in your work, and will you continue to explore it in future writing?

Guilt is the policeman of emotions. If it arrests you, even for a second, you know you did something wrong, and it's just a matter of time before you have to deal with the consequences. It's a powerful emotion. And I think it's an Achilles' heel for many people, especially Koreans. (We try to avoid it as much as possible even as it surrounds us whole.) I also think others can make you feel guilty, but only if that seed of guilt already exists. Joon definitely feels guilt for having left behind a mother, and her mother feels guilt for having convinced her husband to move to the States. The father feels guilt, too, but he doesn't know for what exactly, so he simply throws money in the direction of his church, hoping enough of it will stick for God to notice. Whether guilt is a dominant theme in my book, I'm not sure. But it's definitely there, breathing between sentences.

Q. You're currently a lecturer at the University of Michigan, where you received your MFA and won the Hopwood Award for fiction. Will you continue to teach?

Yes. I got a tenure–track professorship to teach Fiction Writing at Columbia College in Chicago.

Q. What are you working on now?

A novel about a family and a linked short story collection about one crime.

Q. What do you want readers to take away from this book?

I want my book to remind readers that the homeless guy holding out his hand and the drug addict nodding off on the bus and the sex worker in the back seat of a car, and even the murderer locked up in prison were all children once. They too experienced things such as first day of school and school cafeteria fights and detention and beautiful long summers. They had parents, some had siblings, and some even had jobs and love and a future. The homeless guy, the prostitute, the addict, the murderer. These are our brothers, sons and daughters. And these are some of the characters that inhabit my book. I want my readers to love these characters, even if they seem unlovable.



DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • Beginning with helping to steal a Christmas tree, we see Joon participate in acts that aren’t fully legal throughout most of the book. Her actions clearly don’t fit within conventional morality, but is there an ethical code to the way she behaves on the street? Is Joon a principled person? Is Knowledge?
  • Joon has many friendships and relationships over the course of the book—Knowledge and Benny, for instance—but in the end she is essentially alone. Do you think her friendships during her years on the street were true ones, or were they simply ones for survival?
  • The book follows Joon over the course of several years and a variety of different experiences. From Joon’s first escapades with Knowledge to her last conversation with Mr. McCommon, how do you think Joon evolves over the course of the novel?
  • As hard as Joon fights to move on with her life, to stay clean, to stay off the streets, do you feel like there’s hope for her to build a better life in the end?
  • Given the state of Joon’s life at home, do you think her decision to leave home was justified? Was it courageous? Why or why not?
  • Do you think people in the “straight world” from whom Joon seeks help—the employment officer, the nurse—treat her fairly or unfairly? Does reading this book change the way you would approach someone in Joon’s situation?
  • At the close of the novel, are you convinced that Joon will make a different life for herself?
  • What does Joon gain from living on the street? What does she lose?

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Miles from Nowhere 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
jessie2 More than 1 year ago
I love the way this book was written but not sure if I liked the book. I think the author has a lot of potential, the characters in the book were not likable, but I don't think they were intended to be. The book was disjointed and ended ubruptly.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In the 1980s her father abandoned twelve years old Korean-American Joon-Mee and her mother; he was unable to cope with the increased craziness of his wife and still held her culpable for their leaving their country four years earlier. When her mom turns even more helpless with her midnight hole digging activity and is in denial that she everything is messed up except for the humiliation and economic disaster, Joon-Mee flees the Bronx for Manhattan. The runaway becomes a hooker and escort.
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Soon heroin becomes part of the repertoire. She makes friends on the streets, but understands the code that no one has your back although male prostitute Wink mentors her on surviving the ¿Johns, the homeless, and the competitors. Benny, who has a regular job as an orderly, is nice to her when he is not too high; when he is he can be a nasty cutter. Life on the street is rough and fast with even the strong ultimately unable to survive.
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This is not an easy read, but is an extremely deep look at life for a runaway young teen. The story line mostly focuses on Joon-Mee but also enables the reader to see how her mentor Knowledge and others survive at shelters and on the meanest streets. This is cutthroat capitalism at its purest; just like the extreme right wing envision. Readers will be stunned with the graphic details of survival in an urban jungle in which your stalking predator may be sleeping in the cot next too or may be your latest John.
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Harriet Klausner
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
Banish the myth or legend about the Korean immigrant family who arrives in America to "make good," to succeed in achieving the American Dream! Instead welcome to the world of one particular Korean-American girl, Joon-Mee, a 12 year-old girl whose mother descends into the world of madness after Joon's father disappears.

Almost every reader has seen and heard about the world of homeless adults. Now Joon-Mee describes for us her audacious life in a world of homeless young adults or teens who sometimes sleep in the threatening world of public shelters, who virtually overnight become adult survivors of just about every ruse to manipulate and destroy their young minds and spirits.

You'll meet the character Knowledge, who always has a bigger and better plan to make enough money to sleep off the streets and to buy drugs; including the theft of a huge Christmas tree; Wink a boy prostitute, characters from an escort service where Joon is introduced to the world of prostitution, and more.

When Joon decides to go straight, she meets up with an uncompromising employment counselor and a well-intentioned neighbor who offers consolation about a future whose dreams and goals seem impossible.

Miles from Nowhere doesn't build up to a grand crescendo but instead steadily infuses the drama with hints of deep, fragile insecurity lurking behind surface toughness visible to observers of this very cold, hard world. A young child, really, has no other options - the proverbial but too true reality of Joon's world. But the Joon Mee begins to undergo an unexplained metamorphosis, and the reader can actually feel her tension and anguish as she attempts to leave an imprisoned, lethal world.

Nami Mun's language flows from lyrical prose-like descriptions to authentic dialogue that alerts the reader to realize this young author knows this tragic world. It's that realization confirmed over and over again that makes this a riveting, stunning read that evokes emotional reaction and numerous questions about choice, despair, survival and hope!

A wise, literate, fresh story from an author to closely follow in the days to come!

Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on November 3, 2008
ijustgetbored on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Mun¿s novel defies a traditional storyline again and again, with its episodic breaks that lead the reader to realize that there is little coherence to the life of Joon, the daughter of middle-middle class immigrants who choses to break from the literally sick life she lives at home, abandoning painful coherence for the often-unpleasant upheaval of the streets of New York. In each episode, we find Mun trying on a new self, seeing how much of her still-nascent self (Joon is only 13 at the outset of the book) she is willing to sacrifice in any given situation: her autonomy? Her body? Her family? Her sobriety? Her children? These are the challenges we meet in the episodes; there are no Dickensian light-hearted romps through poverty here. This is the glittery, slick world of the early 1980s, and this is its beyond-seamy underbelly.
TrishNYC on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Miles From Nowhere tells the story of 13 year old Joon who runs away from a troubled home. With her father abandoning the family, her mother becomes mentally and emotionally absent. As Joon tries to find her place in the world, she increasingly feels no connection with her mother. She eventually decides to run away from home and the book details her life on the street and her struggle for survival. Shortly after leaving home, she ends up in a homeless shelter where she meets some very colorful characters by the name of Wink and Knowledge. The way in which these two character were introduced, I assumed that they would be an integral part of her life. But just as quickly as they are introduced, they are out of her life without much explanation. Joon then drifts from place to place and situation to situation without finding any permanance. She works as a dance hostess, an Avon lady and a bevy of other random jobs. Somewhere along the way Joon picks up a nasty drug habit. She tries to quit but finds herself drawn back by her boyfriend and continues to spiral deeper and deeper into a narcotics fueled existence with its attendant consequences.This a heartwrenching story because Joon is a victim of neglectful parents. One is exceedingly moved by the things that such a young child is forced to undergo all because her parents are lost in their own worlds. Her childhood is destroyed and she is forced to raise herself into adulthood. The vast majority of Joon's life is spent in hopeless and bleak conditions. One of the main flaws of the book is that it is told in an episodic manner and this literary device eventually weakens the story. One is never able to fully connect with the story because just as you begin to get into some area of her life, you are immediately thrust into another chapter that deals with something unrelated. I think that the book may have also benefitted from having each chapter dated so that we are able to tell when exactly in her life the tale being narrated fits in. At the conclusion, the book just ended. There was no real wrap up, it was just over. But as much as the end left something to be desired, I appreciated the fact that Joon does not have a rags to riches end. Her future is uncertain but hopeful. You see that she is beginining to make strides into a better life but she is still perched at the edge.
reina10 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Although an easy read, this is a complex story of a girl trying to find love while search to find her place in the world. From the beginning, the story captivates your imagination. The author convincingly tells the story of a girl named Joon, and her struggles to overcome a dysfunctional upbringing, feelings of abandonment, and life on the streets of New York. At the age of 13, Joon's father abandons her and her mentally ill mother. Because of her mental illness, her mother is not able to emotionally cope with her husband¿s departure. Consequently, she shuts down emotionally and is not able to take care of Joon. Perceiving her mother¿s emotional shutdown as another form of abandonment, Joon leaves home and begins her life on the streets. She survives all kinds of horrible situations- everything from prostitution to drug addiction- as she tries to understand her past. This narrative is the story of millions of kids living on the streets, but at the same time it is beautifully unique. Some reviewers criticize the book, because some parts don't fall neatly into place, and the reader is left to wonder about what happened. I did not mind this because life does not always fall neatly into place, and many times we are left without answers.
Staciele on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I received an ARC of this book from First Reads. This book will be available in January 2009.This was a fast read, but an extremely depressing story. Joon is a teenage runaway in NYC in the 80's who falls into prostitution, drugs, and alcohol. She is frequently beaten, homeless, and continues to make poor decisions. Aside from all that, the reader is still drawn to Joon and her story is hard to put down. You want to think that she will kick her drug habit, find a job and maybe even reconnect with her parents. I won't spoil the storyline, but will say she does find some comfort by the end of the story in someone least expected. There is a hope for Joon at the end which is much needed. The story at times turned vulgar and gruesome. Joon confronts abortion as well as serious "cutting". These were the most difficult for me, personally, to read through. One passage I connected with was this...He had no idea that grief was a reward. That it only came to those who were loyal, to those who loved more than they were capable of. The story was one that I wanted keep reading, although the storyline wasn't enough to make it a fabulous read for me. The writer has a great talent for making the scenes believeable and visible to the reader. I appreciated the writer's talent to tell Joon's story in such a painful and poetic way. I do think this will be a much talked about book in 2009.
sfisk on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A fast read, somewhat stark, again the scenes and imagery are all too familiar, having lived in NY during the 80's.
efoltz on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A teenage girl runs away from home after her father leaves and she realizes her mother can't function without her father. She encounters drugs, sex and an assortment of interesting people.
tara35 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Miles from Nowhere is the story of Joon, a Korean-American teenage runaway living on the streets of New York in the 1980s. Miles from Nowhere is not easy reading, as young Joon works for little money at horrific jobs, and winds up living in squalor with people she cannot trust, doing drugs and hoping for more out of life. This hope is present throughout the novel and we begin to see what could be a better life for Joon. I think what is most mystifying from the outside in terms of teen runaways is why they have left home in the first place. I suppose my opinion is that a person would have to be pretty emotionally and/or physically terrorized to decide that living on the streets is a better option. I wish that aspect of Joon's life had been explored in more detail. This is a beautifully written novel, but I found myself comparing it to a memoir about a similar book I read about a teen runaway in New York. I'm sure that's not a fair comparison, but it seems in this case, for this subject matter, a memoir simply resonated more with me as a reader.
Bbexlibris on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Joon sees herself as a regular Korean girl until her father leaves her mother, then her mom ignores her- to the extent of not talking to her, acknowledging her and pretending to be dead. Obviously a cry for help that a very young girl can only handle for so long. Joon goes to find her dad and try to get him to return, he turns her down as greener pastures seem to be calling his name. Soon after that, out of desperation Joon runs away. Her life on the streets goes from dark to darker and then when you think it couldn't get any worse it goes to darkest.There is plenty of sexual stuff, drugs, well really substance abuse of every type is discussed and abused in this book. Drug activity is high, very high, talk of shooting this, smoking that, cutting, being high, and all this as a young teen. Each time the reader can see the surface and almost feels allowed to come to breathe air, Joon dives down deeper to the despair of the reader.Well, I don't know what that description does for you, but if you don't like reading the description, don't read Miles from Nowhere. However to its defense, it is different than any book that I have been able to finish to this day. Several times I just couldn't handle the intensity of its graphic nature and had to skip a page, but I kept coming back because Nami Mun is an amazing writer, really she is great, almost humorous at times.I would love to read a lighter book by her, and really hope she chooses to go that route next time, more cultural and less mental illness-teen pregnancy-suicideish. Yes, so I did think her writing was very good, however not good enough for me to feel that I can recommend this with a clean conscience. I can't. I just say sit this one out and wait on what she brings to the table next time. That is my opinion anyway.
kidzdoc on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Miles From Nowhere is an unblinking, stark and disturbing story of Joon-Mee, a Korean girl who emigrated with her family to the Bronx and ran away at age 12 after her father left her and her mother to fend for themselves. The novel takes place in the late 1970s and early 1980s, at a time when NYC was an especially dangerous and unforgiving place to live. Joon encounters a variety of fellow misfits, who provide her with shelter, support, drugs, and loveless sex, and works as a prostitute, drug dealer, petty thief, and escort girl. Somehow she maintains enough optimism and manages to keep her head barely above water despite her precarious existence, believing that she can "choose my own beginning, one that was scrubbed clean of everything past."Much of the story is told in a matter of fact fashion, as she describes her life and those around her without much introspection or insight into the pain she must have experienced, which made the novel less depressing and more readable than it could have been. The ending, though, was quite surprising, and the story ends rather abruptly, which was less than satisfying. However, it was a fast paced and captivating read, and is definitely recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was so beautiful, anyone who says it was hard to read simply wasn't paying attention.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love the writing! Succinct and profound. Had to read some sentences over and over again. The really profound quotes sneak up on you! Highly recommend!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey greenleaf
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
micante mendoza More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up out of curiousity and I loved it. I would like to see more from Mun in the near future. Its a truly captivating story, one that had me reading from begining to end in one sitting. If you like such authors as Haruki Murakami and Ryu Murakami, you will probably enjoy Muns debut, Miles From Nowhere.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book, definately different than what I usually read. Made me cry and cringe several times. Nice to see that someone with such a hard life at such an early age could succeed so greatly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this book to be a great read! The best part of this book was that it was real. Mun's novel is written with such truth that it grips at your inner core to feel so much sorrow for Joon's character. One of my favorite exerts from the book in on page 285 where Joon talks about how she doesn't deserve to grieve her mother's death because she abandoned her when her mother needed her the most. And how much she would give just to see her again, even when her mother was at her worst emotional state. I think Joon's journey is exemplary of many who find themselves lost, scared, doubtful of their own abilities, and looking to fill some void within themselves. This book is a really great read that forces you to think if someone like Joon can make it alive through all of her struggles toward a hopeful future, why can't I?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
donnareads911 More than 1 year ago
Initially, the book started to draw me in, with its tale of Joon, and her introduction to the reader from a shelter, young, and alone. And then, as the story unfolds, it feels like an unstoppable downward rolling roller coaster, on a trip to see how low-down, dirty, drug grunged and strung out Joon can possibly get. I lost any sympathy I had begun to feel at the outset. Like the majority of seasons in the book, this one left me cold.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago