Movies Books Music Food Tv Shows Technology Politics Video Games Parenting Fashion Green Living more >

Lunch » Tags » Book » Reviews » White Pearl and I: A Memoir of a Political Refugee

White Pearl and I: A Memoir of a Political Refugee

1 rating: 3.0
A book by Svetlana Kim

"It requires more than soaring prose writing to produce a wonder such as White Pearl and I. Svetlana Kim and her book are one and the same. The passion, willpower, resilience, humor and abiding faith expressed on the pages are the same qualities found … see full wiki

Tags: Book
Author: Svetlana Kim
Publisher: BookSurge Publishing
1 review about White Pearl and I: A Memoir of a Political...

"Remember, doing nothing is also a risk"

  • Apr 17, 2009
Now I understand why Kim contacted me about her book after reading my review of The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet, a new novel about an irrepressible young person and his improbable journey. While T. J. Spivet left his family and Montana ranch by train to head to Washington, DC to begin a Smithsonian Fellowship, Svetlana Kim left her family in Russia by black-market plane ticket to head to the United States to pursue a dream. Of course, the big difference is that T. J. Spivet's story is fictional, but Svetlana Kim's story is very real.

"White Pearl and I" is a memoir of that journey and its outcome--through circumstance, improbable kindness on the part of so many strangers, and incredible hard work on her part, Kim has become an American citizen and lived the American dream as a successful salesperson and financial adviser. Alongside the story of this journey forward, she intercuts her family history, particularly focusing on her much-beloved grandmother "White Pearl".

Notice that Kim's story begins in Russia, even though she is ethnically Korean. It turns out, in a side gallery of history that is still waiting for full illumination, that there is a fairly large group of Korean-Russians who were deported by Stalin to Asian Russia in 1937 due to his concerns about their loyalties in the face of the coming world war. While Kim provides just enough background to tantalize, she is telling a personal story, not the history of this event, so this is an opportunity for further research and writing on the part of an enterprising historian.

In a couple of my recent reviews I have noted the difficulty that amateur writers have in writing good fiction (for example, see In Tongues of the Dead and The Bambino Secret), and I have suggested that these writers stick to what they know and are very good at. Kim's book is a great example of this "write what you know" principle. She's clearly not a professional writer, and she's writing in her third language (native Russian, German learned in school, English learned at the San Francisco zoo--literally!) but her personality, enthusiasm, and excitement about the story of her life and family shine through.

And what a story it is. Given just a chance moment to make the decision to change the rest of her life (talk about a living exasmple of a "potential seeker"!--see The Impulse Factor: Why Some of Us Play It Safe and Others Risk It All), she buys a black-market plane ticket to New York on the strength of a drive and a dream to succeed, and a months-old invitation to visit a friend in America. In New York City, with one dollar, no one expecting her, and not yet understanding English, she encounters (mostly) helpful strangers who enable her to survive on the streets and eventually achieve her dream, always driven by two principals from her beloved White Pearl:

--"Remember, doing nothing is also a risk."
--"You'll figure it out once you get there."

Svetlana Kim is living proof of the truth of these statements.

What did you think of this review?

Fun to Read
Post a Comment
What's your opinion on White Pearl and I: A Memoir of a Politic...?
1 rating: +3.0
You have exceeded the maximum length.
White Pearl and I: A Memoir of a Political Refugee
Related Topics
The Outsiders (Novel)

A book by S. E. Hinton.

Ella Enchanted

a book written by Gail Carson Levine, published in 1997

Shutter Island

A book by Dennis Lehane.


A novel by Herman Melville

First to Review
© 2015 Lunch.com, LLC All Rights Reserved
Lunch.com - Relevant reviews by real people.
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since