Have you ever read one of those books where the ending is exactly what you wanted, but by the end of the novel, everything has changed and it feels a little hollow, in a good way? That is how I felt after this book. Allow me to explain.
Everything Belongs to Us is an intensely character driven story that surrounds, for the majority, a friendship between two girls whose social status and ambitions are night and day. One desires to have “the life” and everything that was ever denied to her, while the other feels the need to rebel for the sake of rebellion, to hide what she is really missing. Their stories take place at a time of political and economic change in Korea and this setting merely highlights their struggles and ambitions.
While the main two girls, and their one friend, display enough complexity for the whole book, the minor characters each show a different side of their world. I liked Namin because I could relate to her the most, her responsibility and determination. At the same time I understood Jisun’s rebellious spirit and honest desire to help. Yet, these characters are way more multi-faceted and there is no way to draw a line to distinguish the good from the bad (or the noble from the corrupt).
But what really pushes this book over the top for me is the title. It is just so cleverly done and executed throughout the novel. Those few words encompass the opportunities, the limitations, and the future. It explores the questions of what do we own in our lives? Do we own our lives and our ambitions, our future? What do we want to own? We are forced to contemplate, like those in the story, the price of belonging and the cost of having it all. Just what will we do, and what happens to us once we have it?
I do not have the answers to these questions and the book leaves the questions open ended. It is personal, different for each of us and explored in every page of this introspective novel. In a world full of expectations, responsibilities, and ambition, we are left with this question, among many: does our future belong to us? Make sure to pre-order a copy here, her website here, and the book on goodreads.
*Sorry for not having any quotes! The book expired before I was able to write the review!*
Comment below: Do you think we own our own lives? Or are some responsibilities more important?
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If you like this, you might like Human Acts.