Monday, July 5, 2010

Miles from Nowhere by Nami Mun

Miles from Nowhere by Nami Mun. Riverhead Penguin Books. January 2009. ISBN #: 9781594488542

Banish the myth or legend about the Korean immigrant family who arrives in America to "make good," to succeed in achieving the American Dream! Instead welcome to the world of one particular Korean-American girl, Joon-Mee, a 12 year-old girl whose mother descends into the world of madness after Joon's father disappears.

Almost every reader has seen and heard about the world of homeless adults. Now Joon-Mee describes for us her audacious life in a world of homeless young adults or teens who sometimes sleep in the threatening world of public shelters, who virtually overnight become adult survivors of just about every ruse to manipulate and destroy their young minds and spirits.

You'll meet the character Knowledge, who always has a bigger and better plan to make enough money to sleep off the streets and to buy drugs; including the theft of a huge Christmas tree; Wink a boy prostitute, characters from an escort service where Joon is introduced to the world of prostitution, and more.

When Joon decides to go straight, she meets up with an uncompromising employment counselor and a well-intentioned neighbor who offers consolation about a future whose dreams and goals seem impossible.

Miles from Nowhere doesn't build up to a grand crescendo but instead steadily infuses the drama with hints of deep, fragile insecurity lurking behind surface toughness visible to observers of this very cold, hard world. A young child, really, has no other options - the proverbial but too true reality of Joon's world. But the Joon Mee begins to undergo an unexplained metamorphosis, and the reader can actually feel her tension and anguish as she attempts to leave an imprisoned, lethal world.

Nami Mun's language flows from lyrical prose-like descriptions to authentic dialogue that alerts the reader to realize this young author knows this tragic world. It's that realization confirmed over and over again that makes this a riveting, stunning read that evokes emotional reaction and numerous questions about choice, despair, survival and hope!

A wise, literate, fresh story from an author to closely follow in the days to come!

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