Thursday, April 11, 2019

A River in Darkness: One Man's Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa

Rating: 4 of 5 stars 
Length: 172 pages
Published: June 2018

I received a copy of A River in Darkness: One Man's Escape from North Korea during Amazon's celebration of World Book Day in 2018. For the past couple of years Amazon has allowed users to download a select group of books for free on or about World Book Day. Those of us who read know that books can take you to faraway places, so I personally take delight this service provided by Amazon.

But back to this autobiography, the author, Masaji Ishikawa, was born in Japan of his Japanese mother and extremely abusive Korean father. While he and his sisters did experience some trials in Japan because of their socioeconomic status, it was nothing compared to the poverty, discrimination, and violence the entire family faced when his father forced them to move from Japan to North Korea. The bulk of this relatively short book is Ishikawa re-telling his formative years that include the struggles his family faced as mixed-race outsiders in both Japan then North Korea. The reader then follows the author into adulthood, where we find no shortage of struggles for this survivor. As the book title indicates, the author does eventually escape North Korea, but you'll have to read the book to find out at what cost.

This was a fairly quick read that got me out of a reading slump. Having said that, it was not an easy read. Some of the events in the book are extremely descriptive and disturbing. The book is very dark with little hope or joy. However, I do think it is well worth the read. It's important to read and learn about less than pleasant situations so we do not succumb to them. My hope and prayer, after completing this book, is that Mr. Ishikawa found peace.

Recommendation: This, like many works of non-fiction, is a necessary book. I recommend it when you are ready to take on a sobering journey.

Until next time ... Read on!

Regardless of whether I purchase a book, borrow a book, or receive a book in exchange for review, my ultimate goal is to be honest, fair, and constructive. I hope you've found this review helpful.


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