Everything Belongs to Us

  • by Yoojin Grace Wuertz
  • Narrated by Greta Jung
  • 12 hrs and 58 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Two young women of vastly different means each struggles to find her own way during the darkest hours of South Korea's "economic miracle" in a striking debut novel for fans of Anthony Marra and Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie.
Seoul, 1978. At South Korea's top university, the nation's best and brightest compete to join the professional elite of an authoritarian regime. Success could lead to a life of rarefied privilege and wealth; failure means being left irrevocably behind.
For childhood friends Jisun and Namin, the stakes couldn't be more different. Jisun, the daughter of a powerful business mogul, grew up on a mountainside estate with lush gardens and a dedicated chauffeur. Namin's parents run a tented food cart from dawn to curfew; her sister works in a shoe factory. Now Jisun wants as little to do with her father's world as possible, abandoning her schoolwork in favor of the underground activist movement, while Namin studies tirelessly in the service of one goal: to launch herself and her family out of poverty.
But everything changes when Jisun and Namin meet an ambitious, charming student named Sunam, whose need to please his family has led him to a prestigious club: the Circle. Under the influence of his mentor, Juno, a manipulative social climber, Sunam becomes entangled with both women, as they all make choices that will change their lives forever.
In this sweeping yet intimate debut, Yoojin Grace Wuertz details four intertwining lives that are rife with turmoil and desire, private anxieties and public betrayals, dashed hopes and broken dreams - while a nation moves toward prosperity at any cost.

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What the Critics Say

"If South Korea transformed in a generation, this is the generation that transformed it: rich and poor, reckless and disciplined, loyal and faithless. Yoojin Grace Wuertz's fierce and unforgettable characters embody every contradiction as they do everything they can to ensure their own, and their nation's, survival. In Everything Belongs to Us, Wuertz has given us a Middlemarch for modern South Korea. She's woven the whole social tapestry, and made us care about every last thread." (Susan Choi, author of My Education)
"I found myself engrossed in the difficult choices faced by Wuertz's nuanced, engaging characters as they navigate college politics and romance in 1970s Seoul. I'm thrilled to have experienced their inner lives in these pages - to have celebrated their victories and commiserated in the pain of their mistakes - and would happily have stuck with them for hundreds more." (Emily Barton, author of The Book of Esther)
"What a story! Everything belongs to this terrific debut: love, family, friendship, and politics. I especially loved the two strong-willed and passionate heroines. Their ideals, choices, and struggles make this an utterly rapturous literary page-turner." (Samuel Park, author of This Burns My Heart)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Fascinating, engaging plot, complex characters

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!
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- F.George "FG"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-28-2017
  • Publisher: Random House Audio