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Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related.: A Memoir

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A beautiful and haunting memoir of kinship and culture rediscovered. Jenny Heijun Wills was born in Korea and adopted as an infant into a white family in small-town Canada. In her late twenties, she reconnected with her first family and returned to Seoul where she spent four months getting to know other adoptees, as well as her Korean mother, father, siblings, and extended fami A beautiful and haunting memoir of kinship and culture rediscovered. Jenny Heijun Wills was born in Korea and adopted as an infant into a white family in small-town Canada. In her late twenties, she reconnected with her first family and returned to Seoul where she spent four months getting to know other adoptees, as well as her Korean mother, father, siblings, and extended family. At the guesthouse for transnational adoptees where she lived, alliances were troubled by violence and fraught with the trauma of separation and of cultural illiteracy. Unsurprisingly, heartbreakingly, Wills found that her nascent relationships with her family were similarly fraught. Ten years later, Wills sustains close ties with her Korean family. Her Korean parents and her younger sister attended her wedding in Montreal, and that same sister now lives in Canada. Remarkably, meeting Jenny caused her birth parents to reunite after having been estranged since her adoption. Little by little, Jenny Heijun Wills is learning and relearning her stories and those of her biological kin, piecing together a fragmented life into something resembling a whole. Delving into gender, class, racial, and ethnic complexities, as well as into the complex relationships between Korean women--sisters, mothers and daughters, grandmothers and grandchildren, aunts and nieces--Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related. describes in visceral, lyrical prose the painful ripple effects that follow a child's removal from a family, and the rewards that can flow from both struggle and forgiveness.


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A beautiful and haunting memoir of kinship and culture rediscovered. Jenny Heijun Wills was born in Korea and adopted as an infant into a white family in small-town Canada. In her late twenties, she reconnected with her first family and returned to Seoul where she spent four months getting to know other adoptees, as well as her Korean mother, father, siblings, and extended fami A beautiful and haunting memoir of kinship and culture rediscovered. Jenny Heijun Wills was born in Korea and adopted as an infant into a white family in small-town Canada. In her late twenties, she reconnected with her first family and returned to Seoul where she spent four months getting to know other adoptees, as well as her Korean mother, father, siblings, and extended family. At the guesthouse for transnational adoptees where she lived, alliances were troubled by violence and fraught with the trauma of separation and of cultural illiteracy. Unsurprisingly, heartbreakingly, Wills found that her nascent relationships with her family were similarly fraught. Ten years later, Wills sustains close ties with her Korean family. Her Korean parents and her younger sister attended her wedding in Montreal, and that same sister now lives in Canada. Remarkably, meeting Jenny caused her birth parents to reunite after having been estranged since her adoption. Little by little, Jenny Heijun Wills is learning and relearning her stories and those of her biological kin, piecing together a fragmented life into something resembling a whole. Delving into gender, class, racial, and ethnic complexities, as well as into the complex relationships between Korean women--sisters, mothers and daughters, grandmothers and grandchildren, aunts and nieces--Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related. describes in visceral, lyrical prose the painful ripple effects that follow a child's removal from a family, and the rewards that can flow from both struggle and forgiveness.

30 review for Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related.: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mindy

    It is heartbreaking and beautiful and poetic and perfect.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    Well... This is a tragic and beautiful text. I did weep, at several moments, including when the kind Korean waitress helps the author with a Korean meal. I really appreciate the author sharing her story with such care and vulnerability. There were brief, rare instances where the prose was overwrought or cliche, but this was an innovative structure and poetic approach to memoir. It was like each segment was a piece of cloth in a quilt that could have been put together in any number of ways. The c Well... This is a tragic and beautiful text. I did weep, at several moments, including when the kind Korean waitress helps the author with a Korean meal. I really appreciate the author sharing her story with such care and vulnerability. There were brief, rare instances where the prose was overwrought or cliche, but this was an innovative structure and poetic approach to memoir. It was like each segment was a piece of cloth in a quilt that could have been put together in any number of ways. The cover design was absolutely lovely. I would definitely recommend this to my students, and everyone else. The story was so moving and the language was so gentle.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Simonew

    Very sad and beautiful ... moved me and made me question the whole adoption enterprise and not placing children in homes of their own heritage and background and whether or not we cause more harm in the process.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ingrid Doell

  5. 4 out of 5

    Angélique (MapleBooks)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

  7. 5 out of 5

    Minelle

  8. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

  9. 4 out of 5

    Liana

  10. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte Magnusson

  11. 5 out of 5

    Liz

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jody

  13. 5 out of 5

    Amy Lings

  14. 5 out of 5

    Savannah

  15. 5 out of 5

    Meg

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sally Ito

  18. 5 out of 5

    Meredith

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lise

  21. 4 out of 5

    Yiming

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl Yang

  23. 5 out of 5

    Megan

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mel

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

  26. 4 out of 5

    darlene Barnes

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra Chubachi

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alison Colvin

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jase

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Bosc

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