“For all my life – like Father’s trusty tin cup – the Japanese had been here; their presence was as natural as the sound of faraway streams. Faraway streams because while the Japanese lived on our land, they did not live in our world.”
Based on the real-life experiences of their parents, Frances and Ginger Park are sisters who create a beautiful novel of faith and resilience during the Japanese occupation of Korea during World War II. The hero, Sei-Young, grows up in the south, while the heroine, Heisook, lives with her family in the north. The authors alternate each character’s story, chapter by chapter, as they struggle under Japanese oppression, celebrate the triumph of the allies and the end of World War II, and find themselves on opposite sides of an imaginary line that will divide their country.
Simply written, To Swim Across the World is a terrific look into the historical events that shaped the world as we know it today. There are also some excellent themes including forgiveness, humanity, loss, resilience and faith. I’m going to recommend this to our school librarian as an excellent choice for middle and high school students.
3 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2001