Monday, June 29, 2015

Book Review: Re Jane by Patricia Park

Re Jane by Patricia Park
Published by: Pamela Dorman Books
Published on: May 5, 2015
Page Count: 352
Genre: Fiction
My Reading Format: ARC ebook for Kindle provided by NetGalley
Available Formats: Hardcover, Kindle ebook, Audible

My Review:

Jane is a college graduate living in Queens, NY, with her uncle and his family, and working in the family business, an international grocery store, while she is job hunting. As she is unappreciated and brushed aside by her uncle and his family, they are the only family she has outside of Korea. When a friend shows her a want ad for an au pair in Brooklyn, she puts her dreams of a job on finance on hold and applies for the job. This live-in job will ensure that she can quit her job at the family business and move out from under her uncle's roof.

In her new role, Jane is caregiver for Devon, the Chinese adopted daughter of Ed Farley and Beth Mazer, two professors. In their home, she is out from the watchful eye of her uncle and his high expectations that she'll act according to her Korean upbringing. Jane feels freer to be herself and forms a friendship with Ed over late-night conversations in the kitchen, which develops into a deeper relationship. As Jane is falling more deeply in love, she and her New York family are summoned to Seoul for a family funeral.  

Jane stays in Seoul longer than expected, and while she is gone, September 11, 2001 happens in New York City, changing everything. She finds a job teaching English and makes new friends. In Seoul, Jane also becomes more self-assured. Her time in Korea makes Jane's attempt to balance the two parts of her life (Korean and American) and her family's wishes with her own even more difficult.

Overall, I liked this modern interpretation of Jane Eyre. As a modern woman, I wished Jane had a stronger resolve against her attraction to her boss. I was disappointed that she was so intrigued with Ed without getting a connection from his end. I found their relationship to be creepy, as Beth wasn't the madwoman in the attic but a very present parent in the same household as this developing romance. Ed went back to Beth, which I expected. Becomes more self-assured once she spends time in Seoul. She's tired of doing what's expected of her. Jane leaves Ed. She knows she can do better for herself. He knows it too.

I very much enjoyed watching Jane navigate her world, which included living in two cultures and balancing what she wanted to do with her life with what she was expected to do. By the end of the book, I was satisfied with the decisions she made for herself. And, even though she dreamed of a job in finance, she made a good au pair and I liked watching a warm relationship with Devon develop. 

Three and a half out of five stars

If you liked this book, you’ll like Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (of course!), The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford and Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland. 

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