"Shelter is domestic drama at its best, a gripping narrative of secrets and revelations that seized me from beginning to end."—Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-Winning author of The Sympathizer
One of The Millions' Most Anticipated Books of the Year (Selected by Edan Lepucki)
Now BuzzFeed's #1 Most Buzzed About Book of 2016 So Far
Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
Kyung Cho is a young father burdened by a house he can’t afford. For years, he and his wife, Gillian, have lived beyond their means. Now their debts and bad decisions are catching up with them, and Kyung is anxious for his family’s future.
A few miles away, his parents, Jin and Mae, live in the town’s most exclusive neighborhood, surrounded by the material comforts that Kyung desires for his wife and son. Growing up, they gave him every possible advantage—private tutors, expensive hobbies—but they never showed him kindness. Kyung can hardly bear to see them now, much less ask for their help. Yet when an act of violence leaves Jin and Mae unable to live on their own, the dynamic suddenly changes, and he’s compelled to take them in. For the first time in years, the Chos find themselves living under the same roof. Tensions quickly mount as Kyung’s proximity to his parents forces old feelings of guilt and anger to the surface, along with a terrible and persistent question: how can he ever be a good husband, father, and son when he never knew affection as a child?
As Shelter veers swiftly toward its startling conclusion, Jung Yun leads us through dark and violent territory, where, unexpectedly, the Chos discover hope. Shelter is a masterfully crafted debut novel that asks what it means to provide for one's family and, in answer, delivers a story as riveting as it is profound.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Jung Yun’s debut is a wrecking ball of a novel that sustains a dazzlingly fast pace even as it digs deeply into a twisted family dynamic. Her protagonist is Kyung, a young husband and father struggling to keep up with his suburban home payments and his demanding parents’ expectations. But then Kyung’s world is shattered by an unspeakable act of violence. Yun is a spare, elegant, and supremely perceptive writer—her depiction of filial love and obligation cuts to the quick.
In her intense debut, Jung explores the powerful legacy of familial violence and the difficulty of finding the strength and grace to forgive. As the novel opens, Kyung Cho and his wife, Gillian, are on the verge of financial calamity: they are deep in debt, and selling their house in suburban Boston won't help their mortgage is underwater. Just when Gillian has almost convinced Kyung to swallow his pride and move in with his wealthy parents, Kyung learns that his parents have been the victims of a brutal home invasion. In an instant, Kyung must decide whether to find room in his home (and his heart) for his traumatized parents. Doing so, however, requires him to bridge the distance he's deliberately maintained from them, to overcome the resentment he bears toward his parents for his unhappy childhood and his persistent feelings of failure. As Kyung's situation grows increasingly unstable, he finds himself lapsing into familiar patterns of anger, distrust, and violence. Despite some lengthy asides, especially in the novel's first half, that threaten to drown the narrative momentum in emotional reflection, a lot happens in this family drama rife with tension and unexpected ironies. Kyung's greatest struggle, in the end, is learning how to see not only his own life but also his parents' with clarity and understanding.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Shelter by Jung Yun
This is an exquisite book that I feel I can’t review in words without giving away too much. It is profound & deeply moving. There are twists, turns & surprises along the way with a stupendous revelation or insight at the end about the effects wreaked by the biggest problem in the world! How’d I do? You’ll enjoy this astounding book!
Couldn't put this book down!
A superbly written book which leaves you reeling. Definitely a book to add to your list.
this novel tells the story of Kyung and his relationship with his wife, kids, parents and in-laws - the novel starts off with some very interesting events that pique the readers interest immediately- this momentum is not upheld throughout the book as the main character's internal conflict is revealed throughout the middle of the story. It was sometimes hard to empathize with the main character as he presented himself as week and unmotivated. The end of the novel picks up a bit and makes readers want to finish the book - overall an ok book.