Hello and welcome back to another book review.
I love reading books by Asian authors because they have a way of viewing a character from an unbiased lens. This book is no different. Kim Hye-Jin has crafted a mother who is representative of a lot of mothers around the world, raising children they hope will someday be a source of joy and care for them. But what happens when the daughter you have raised isn’t anything like you wanted or expected, what happens when that child is ‘the other’? When you cannot speak about your daughter? You get concerned and fearful.
*Thanks to the publisher for sending an ARC of this book to me.
Title: Concerning My Daughter
Author: Kim Hye-jin
Publication date: April 14th, 2022
Purchase links: Waterstones | WHSmith | Book Depository | Amazon
Where do I start with this book? Let me begin with my expectations; I went into this book knowing that it was going to be a microscopic view of the life of an elderly woman struggling to accept that her daughter is gay. Yes, we do get this in the book, but I think I did get a lot more out this book and in some way it is reconstructing the way I understand the word ‘homophobia’. Just like other phobias, at the back of my mind, I just accepted that people who were homophobic were afraid of people who are homosexual but now I truly question what it actually means. I am thinking now that rather than being afraid of homosexuality, homophobic people are afraid of other people like them. People who hold similar views to them, people they hold as role models, it is always about what other people will think of them and not just the person who is homosexual.
This book follows an ageing mother who allows her daughter, Green, move back into her apartment. The daughter arrives with her girlfriend, Lane, and we basically follow this mother’s struggle to understand her daughter. Her daughter, who continuously returns home with bruises she gets protesting labour rights for gay teachers at the University she teaches at. At first we see this mother struggle to maintain civility with Lane and Green but as the story progress we get to see her begin to, simply put, lose her shit. This is where we begin to see the juxtaposition between this mother’s work at a care home, and her fears (honestly terror) for her child. This mother begins to fear that her daughter will end up at a care home like Jen (the aged woman she is caring for at the care home) who is well accomplished, travelled the world, fought for the rights of immigrants but had no children and spends her remaining days in the care home ‘wasting’ away without any visitors. So you get to see that its not necessarily that this mother hates her child being gay, in the normalised sense of homophobia, but she fears that the ‘otherness’ of it might make her daughter just like Jen. In some way, I will call it terrorized love, the kind of actions that are a result of terror.
There are so many themes that this book explored such as the current state of employment in universities, the true meaning of normalcy, sexuality, protests and fear. I really loved this book. I think it was a great character study that goes beyond the veiled lens or label of homophobia but a true journey to understanding, acceptance and love.
I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars
Thanks for reading.