Butterfly: A life journey from South Korea to America
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (5/11)
Being an immigrant is never easy, no matter how far from one’s home one ends up. But ending up practically on the other side of this planet, in a society so totally different from the one you were brought up in, must be beyond tough. Yet this tiny Korean girl, Jeannie, who was born in South Korea during the Korean War, managed to make a new life for herself in United States, and in spite of nearly impossible odds even built a very successful business.
“Butterfly” tells us a fascinating story of Jeannie Ji, a young woman who was raised in a very traditional, hard-working Korean family, where her parents overcame many adversities during and after the war to offer her and her siblings a better life. Her father wanted her to go to the United States, get a good education and marry well, so that she would also be able to take care of her younger brother In Ge. After his death and after enduring abuse at the hands of her relatives, she managed to make her way to the USA and eventually marry her first husband. Her memories of those early days are truly priceless, with my absolute favorite one being the tale of how to deal with a leak when you can not afford a plumber. I can promise you that you will never look at the chewing gum and duct tape quite the same way again…
Throughout her memories of both her early years as well as the life she had made for herself in the States, Jeannie Ji weaves those wonderful memories of her parents, giving them recognition and praise for all that she has achieved and done in her life. One of her final notes, the one on always being different and never quite blending in, whether she is in Korea or in the USA, does sound slightly sad and quite wistful, but I believe it is this particular mix that makes her unique and utterly special.
While I am usually a big stickler for proper grammar and polished writing, I have to admit I was glad this book was not overly edited. The way the author’s language comes across makes the whole story more grounded. Any more complex writing would destroy the slightly child-like, but by no means childish quality of this book, and it would certainly lose a great part of its charm.
Read this book if you would like to know how solid, honest upbringing can help a person succeed in life, if you enjoy stories about American dreams coming true or if you were ever curious about an unvarnished opinion of an immigrant to this country. You’ll be charmed and amazed by “Butterfly.”