Banned Book Club

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Modern Age

Banned Book Club
Author: Kim, Hyun Sook
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Time Period: Modern Age
Time Frame: 1983-2016
Geographic Area: Asia
Country: South Korea
Topics: Banned Books, Resistance, Activism
Genre: Fiction
Reading Age: Young Adult
Format: Graphic Novel
Published: 2020

Content Warning
police brutality, violence, off-page sexual assault, a teacher propositioning a student

World History > Modern Age > 1980s

"Highly recommended for readers passionate about activism." ― SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, Starred Review

"Sure to inspire today’s youthful generation of tenacious changemakers." ― BOOKLIST, Starred Review

"The messages of hope are universal." ― PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, Starred Review

"A timely read about friendship amid chaos." ― NPR

"It’s hard to imagine a world where Banned Book Club could be more relevant than it is right now." ― A.V. CLUB

When Kim Hyun Sook started college in 1983 she was ready for her world to open up. After acing her exams and sort-of convincing her traditional mother that it was a good idea for a woman to go to college, she looked forward to soaking up the ideas of Western Literature far from the drudgery she was promised at her family’s restaurant. But literature class would prove to be just the start of a massive turning point, still focused on reading but with life-or-death stakes she never could have imagined.

This was during South Korea's Fifth Republic, a military regime that entrenched its power through censorship, torture, and the murder of protestors. In this charged political climate, with Molotov cocktails flying and fellow students disappearing for hours and returning with bruises, Hyun Sook sought refuge in the comfort of books. When the handsome young editor of the school newspaper invited her to his reading group, she expected to pop into the cafeteria to talk about Moby Dick, Hamlet, and The Scarlet Letter. Instead she found herself hiding in a basement as the youngest member of an underground banned book club. And as Hyun Sook soon discovered, in a totalitarian regime, the delights of discovering great works of illicit literature are quickly overshadowed by fear and violence as the walls close in.

In BANNED BOOK CLUB, Hyun Sook shares a dramatic true story of political division, fear-mongering, anti-intellectualism, the death of democratic institutions, and the relentless rebellion of reading.

Emily's Review

What an inspiring book! I feel like I learned so much about Korean history that I had never heard before. This book is set in the 1980s, when South Korea was ruled by an authoritarian regime. I admit, I didn't know this about Korean history, and it was eye opening! I defintely want to learn more.

What I loved about this book though, is the message that this book sends - when you know something is wrong, you stand up and fight it any way that you can. In this case, they read banned books and protested. I love stories about resistance and the different ways that people use their voice for good. I loved watching the main character Hyun Sook find her voice over the course of this story.

In today's climate, books like this are so important. Teens need to see other kids their age standing up and using their voices. I highly recommend this book for ages 14+

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