Everything Belongs to Us Everything Belongs to Us

Everything Belongs to Us

A Novel

    • 3.5 • 6 Ratings
    • $4.99
    • $4.99

Publisher Description

Two young women of vastly different means each struggle to find her own way during the darkest hours of South Korea’s “economic miracle” in a striking debut novel for readers of Anthony Marra and Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie.

Seoul, 1978. At South Korea’s top university, the nation’s best and brightest compete to join the professional elite of an authoritarian regime. Success could lead to a life of rarefied privilege and wealth; failure means being left irrevocably behind.

For childhood friends Jisun and Namin, the stakes couldn’t be more different. Jisun, the daughter of a powerful business mogul, grew up on a mountainside estate with lush gardens and a dedicated chauffeur. Namin’s parents run a tented food cart from dawn to curfew; her sister works in a shoe factory. Now Jisun wants as little to do with her father’s world as possible, abandoning her schoolwork in favor of the underground activist movement, while Namin studies tirelessly in the service of one goal: to launch herself and her family out of poverty.

But everything changes when Jisun and Namin meet an ambitious, charming student named Sunam, whose need to please his family has led him to a prestigious club: the Circle. Under the influence of his mentor, Juno, a manipulative social climber, Sunam becomes entangled with both women, as they all make choices that will change their lives forever.

In this sweeping yet intimate debut, Yoojin Grace Wuertz details four intertwining lives that are rife with turmoil and desire, private anxieties and public betrayals, dashed hopes and broken dreams—while a nation moves toward prosperity at any cost.

Praise for Everything Belongs to Us

“The intertwined lives of South Korean university students provide intimacy to a rich and descriptive portrait of the country during the period of authoritarian industrialization in the late 1970s. Wuertz’s debut novel is a Gatsby-esque takedown, full of memorable characters.”The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)

“Wuertz’s masterful novel traces the paths of two friends who come from very different backgrounds, but whose trajectories have taken them to the same point in time. This is a story of love and passion, betrayal and ambition, and it is an always fascinating look at a country whose many contradictions contribute to its often enigmatic allure.”Nylon

Fiction & Literature
February 28
Random House Publishing Group
Penguin Random House LLC

Customer Reviews

Kris Anderson, The Avid Reader ,

I did not enjoy this one!

Everything Belongs to Us is a debut novel by Yoojin Grace Wuertz. It is 1978 in Seoul, South Korea. Jisun, Namin, Juno and Sunam are all going to college, but each one of them is different. Jisun and Namin are friends, though, they are from very different backgrounds. Jisun is from a wealthy family and she protests every single thing her father believes in. She has joined the underground activist movement despite her father’s efforts to curtail her activities. Namin’s parents work hard running their food cart while Namin studies to become a doctor. She needs to graduate and then help her family especially her disabled brother. Juno Yoon is a member of the Circle and Sunam would like to join. Juno has become Sunam’s mentor in teaching him the right way to behave (basically, Sunam does Juno’s bidding). Their college years are just the beginning. Read Everything Belongs to Us to see how these four students evolve and where they eventually end up.

I had a hard time reading Everything Belongs to Us. It took me three tries to get through the whole novel. The story shows people at each end of the spectrum. We can see how money can corrupt a person and change their personality. These young people are discovering who they are and what they want. I did appreciate the epilogue (even if I did not like how the book ended). I wish, though, that it had not been written from just one character’s perspective (would have preferred third person). It was interesting to see how the 70s played out in a different country (one of the reasons I choose to read this book). I found the writing to be overformal and flat. It reminded me of some textbooks I read in college. I could not get involved in the story. Part of the reason is the wandering storylines. The book jumps from character to character. Then we are in the present and then the past. I was not a fan of the characters (another reason I could not get into this novel). There are the expected college exploits and the various romantic relationships. I ended up skimming through sections after a while. I read the first 1/3 of the book, the middle section, and the last third (it was the best I could do with this novel). I give Everything Belongs to Us 1 out of 5 stars (I really did not like this book). The author was very thorough in her details. Some scenes are a little off-putting. This novel sounded fascinating, but I was not the right reader for Everything Belongs to Us.

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