As someone who is adopted, these stories about finding out our unknown roots are going to get me. I don’t make the rules. I will forever be interested in origin stories. So you now understand why I had to read The Noh Family. Because Chloe’s struggles with her new family and her sense of family? Entirely up my alley. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
When her friends gift her a 23-and-Me test as a gag, high school senior Chloe Kang doesn’t think much of trying it out. She doesn’t believe anything will come of it–she’s an only child, her mother is an orphan, and her father died in Seoul before she was even born, and before her mother moved to Oklahoma. It’s been just Chloe and her mom her whole life. But the DNA test reveals something Chloe never expected–she’s got a whole extended family from her father’s side half a world away in Korea. Her father’s family are owners of a famous high-end department store, and are among the richest families in Seoul. When they learn she exists, they are excited to meet her. Her mother has huge reservations, she hasn’t had a great relationship with her husband’s family, which is why she’s kept them secret, but she can’t stop Chloe from travelling to Seoul to spend two weeks getting to know the Noh family.
Chloe is whisked into the lap of luxury, but something feels wrong. Chloe wants to shake it off–she’s busy enjoying the delights of Seoul with new friend Miso Dan, the daughter of one of her mother’s grade school friends. And as an aspiring fashion designer, she’s loving the couture clothes her department store owning family gives her access to. But soon Chloe will discover the reason why her mother never told her about her dad’s family, and why the Nohs wanted her in Seoul in the first place. Could joining the Noh family be worse than having no family at all?
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
I’ve always wondered what I would do if I was able to discover my family. To ask them what happened and to find out what they thought of me. So when Chloe suddenly finds family she never knew she had – with a heavy dose of secrets – her whole world is about to change. Before it was just Chloe and her mother, but she always wondered about her nebulous family. A first class ticket to Korea to meet them isn’t a bad first impression either. But what Chloe will have to figure out herself is what family means to her.
When we think we have gotten our wildest dreams, we can become immersed. Everything we ever wanted is a dangerous potent gift. Because it means that if anything isn’t perfect, it becomes threatening to our dreams. To the fantasies we had of our life. In a way, we can cling on to these illusions, way past when we should, because we want to believe. In The Noh Family, must contend with this very struggle. From the very beginning, something doesn’t add up and it will be up to Chloe to decide if it’s a deal breaker.
Belonging and Rejection
The way Shim explores this theme was heart wrenching. It was simultaneously so heart breaking – because we see how much she just wants to belong – but also frustrating because you’re like, “Chloe come on!” It’s a testament to the idea that we can’t make someone change. If the change doesn’t come from within, nothing we say matters. Throughout The Noh Family, Chloe has to figure out what family means to her. If this new family is worth losing the ones she has. Her fierce desire to belong and her fear of rejection struck me deep within the soul.
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At the same time, The Noh Family is about how each of us, in some ways, can feel like we don’t belong in our families. The pain of feeling like we’re never chosen. That one impacted me severely. Overall, The Noh Family is perfect for fans of contemporary family secrets that will leave your stomach in knots. There’s plenty of tension as the clock continues to tick and Chloe must decide if it’s worth it. Find The Noh Family on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.