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Everything Belong to Us is an engaging novel with a compelling plot and a well-developed cast of characters. The plot centers around four college students in 1970s South Korea and moves quickly as their relationships develop and intertwine. Things come to a crescendo at the end as each characters hopes, dreams and aspirations are tested against a tumultuous and fascinating time in the history of a country that most people don’t know enough about. Incidentally, the ending of this book was very satisfying as Wuertz gives you a glimpse of the future of these characters who had so much at stake during the plot.
I don’t usually ready historical fiction since it usually sacrifices plot and writing quality in order for historical accuracy. While it’s clear that Wuertz did a lot of research around the time period (the small details of a rapidly changing country are fascinating) the quality of the writing is top notch. The story is exciting, suspenseful and emotional. The author’s writing lets the story run and doesn’t impede it simply for the sake of being clever or different. It’s a well-written novel where the writing and the plot work together effortlessly. Also, the author does an amazing job provoking empathy for beautifully flawed characters.
Everything Belongs to Us was an engaging read that seemed to carry itself through the majority of the story. At no point did I feel it dragging (I read the whole novel in one day!) and I was always compelled to see the characters’ fates develop. While I think this book would satisfy fans of literary fiction, I think it’ll find a true audience in the mainstream reader who wants a unique story set in an underserved time and place. I’d consider it a must read for anyone interested in Korean history, socioeconomic development, Korean dramas (it would make a fantastic Korean drama!!) but also accessible for any reader who loves a compelling story with truly realistic and interesting characters. Though I know it's a debut novel, it exceeded my expectations. Can't wait to read more from the author. Highly recommended!