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Childhood with precarious but shining days

Posted July. 16, 2022 07:31,   

Updated July. 16, 2022 07:31


Everyone goes through a painful period some time in their childhood. That could be attributable to strict parents, bullying at school, breaking up with best friends, to name a few. Those may have become faint pieces of the memory as grown-ups, but they were earth-shattering experiences that seemed to scar you for life then. A novel first presented by the author, who has been active as a poet and essayist, traces back the precarious but beautiful childhood memories.

The seven-year-old girl ‘Summer,’ the protagonist, is born with sensitive personalities. Her parents gave birth to Summer without getting married, and her father had Summer be raised by his older sister who was very strict. Later on, her father remarried to a woman who would utter hurtful words to Summer such as, "you're ugly" and "you don't look good in that outfit." Between her father and stepmother, a step-brother 'Scholar' was born, and Summer had to endure the life filled with jealousy and intimidation.

A shoulder to cry on for Summer was offered by her school friend, ‘Ruby.’ Ruby was also going through her childhood as precarious as Summer. Ruby's mother, who raising Ruby alone, was as unpredictable as an active volcano. Eventually, Ruby's mother ran away from home at dawn, leaving Ruby behind. Summer and Ruby, who until then never felt a complete sense of belonging and affection, found each other and became best friends instantly. Ruby was always teased at school because of her personality, who was not afraid to tell lies such as, “I live in a 100-pyeong house with 100 bathrooms.” However, Summer would defend Ruby by saying, “Ruby just wanted to color passing moments of her life with bright colors. Even if that means she will be hated by others, she is being honest about what she wants in life and in doing so, she has no ill intentions.”

It is thanks to the author's detailed description that my childhood friend who is like 'Ruby' suddenly popped into my mind. With the writer’s delicate writing skills with attention to detail, the readers will be able to reminisce their childhood memories coming to life with all five senses, as in “painful moments of puking and nosebleeds for no reason after arguing with Ruby,” and “trembling sensations when putting fingers on the piano keys for the first time.”

Jae-Hee Kim jetti@donga.com