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Re Jane

  • Writer
    Patricia Park
  • Country
    U.S.A.
  • Publisher
  • Published Year
    2015
  • Genre
    Literature - English and American literatures - Fiction

Description

"Re Jane is snappy and memorable, with its clever narrator and insights on clashing cultures."—Entertainment Weekly

 

For Jane Re, half-Korean, half-American orphan, Flushing, Queens, is the place she's been trying to escape from her whole life. Sardonic yet vulnerable, Jane toils, unappreciated, in her strict uncle's grocery store and politely observes the traditional principle of nunchi (a combination of good manners, hierarchy, and obligation). Desperate for a new life, she's thrilled to become the au pair for the Mazer-Farleys, two Brooklyn English professors and their adopted Chinese daughter. Inducted into the world of organic food co-ops, and nineteenth–century novels, Jane is the recipient of Beth Mazer's feminist lectures and Ed Farley's very male attention. But when a family death interrupts Jane and Ed's blossoming affair, she flies off to Seoul, leaving New York far behind.
Reconnecting with family, and struggling to learn the ways of modern-day Korea, Jane begins to wonder if Ed Farley is really the man for her. Jane returns to Queens, where she must find a balance between two cultures and accept who she really is. Re Jane is a bright, comic story of falling in love, finding strength, and living not just out of obligation to others, but for one's self.
Journeying from Queens to Brooklyn to Seoul, and back, this is a fresh, contemporary retelling of Jane Eyre and a poignant Korean American debut
From the Hardcover edition.

 

 

  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 16, 2015
    Park’s debut is a cheeky, clever homage to Jane Eyre, interwoven with touching meditations on Korean-American identity. Jane Re has never felt like she fit in, and not just because she’s a half-Korean orphan in the “all-Korean, all the time” enclave of Flushing, Queens. After graduating from CUNY, she’s still stocking shelves in her uncle’s grocery store while her overachieving peers have moved on to graduate school and high-profile finance jobs. Desperate for a change of scenery, Jane takes a job as an au pair for the Mazer-Farleys, a Brooklyn couple with an adopted Chinese daughter. Jane comes to love her charge, her new neighborhood, and her new bosses. But when the friendly bond she shares with Ed Farley goes a step too far, she flees New York for Seoul, where she gets in touch with her roots and uncovers a new sense of identity. Though the Brontë references occasionally land with the subtlety of an anvil, Park’s clever one-liners make the story memorable, and her riffs on cultural identity will resonate with any reader who’s ever felt out of place. Agent: Esmond Harmsworth and Lane Zachary, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth.

 

  • Kirkus

    March 15, 2015
    A young Korean-American woman grapples with issues of identity, family, and love in Park's debut novel, a sweet and savvy bildungsroman. Jane Re is a recent college graduate whose high-finance job offer evaporated when the dot-com bubble burst. Now she's stuck restocking shelves and serving irritable customers at Food, her disapproving aunt and uncle's grocery store. It doesn't help that everyone in her Korean immigrant neighborhood knows she's an orphan, and honhyol (mixed-blood) to boot. While her friends from school are off to impressive professional jobs, Jane is stuck in unfashionable Queens, wrestling with the broken door of the walk-in freezer, the constant criticism of her appearance ("Koreanish") and behavior, and the uncomfortable rigidity of family life. When her geeky friend Eunice Oh suggests she apply for an au pair job in Brooklyn, Jane finds herself plunged into a bewilderingly different cultural context that turns out to be a brave new world. The book is, in its own way, both a historical novel and a novel of place. Park's lovingly detailed descriptions reveal Brooklyn, Queens, and Seoul as seen by an intelligent 20-something in the first years of the 21st century. A varied cast of characters-women's-studies professors, a Chinese adoptee, an Italian immigrant babysitter with a talent for home renovation-is drawn with affectionate respect. Park does a lovely job of tracing Jane's growing maturity and self-knowledge. Her experiences facing her family history and complex identity when she visits South Korea to see her dying grandfather nicely mirror those among Korean immigrants and others in the U.S. Park is a fine writer with an eye for the effects of class and ethnic identity, a sense of humor, and a compassionate view of human weakness who nevertheless doesn't make the rookie error of letting her characters off easy. An enjoyable book offering a portrait of a young woman struggling to come into her own in the increasingly complicated opening years of a new century.

 

  • Library Journal

    June 1, 2015

    Park's debut is a contemporary retelling of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre with a Korean American twist. It is the early 2000s in Flushing, Queens, where Jane Re works in her uncle's grocery store after failing to attain a high-powered finance job in the post-dot-com era. Jane, a half-American/half-Korean orphan, doesn't exactly fit in with the residents of the Korean neighborhood where she's lived all her life, and the people around her never fail to point out this fact. Downtrodden from her grocery gig and her uncle's routine emotional abuse, Jane is tempted into an au pair position taking care of English professors Beth and Ed's adopted Chinese child. Introduced to organic foods and 19th-century literature, Jane is both the focus of Beth's feminist lectures and Ed's male gaze. Just as Jane strikes up an affair with Ed, a family death takes her back to Korea, where she begins to wonder if Ed is really the one. VERDICT This brightly written and engrossing read takes Jane Eyre and turns it into a lesson about self-acceptance. It will appeal to readers who enjoy modern retellings of classic literature, as well as fans of Jean Kwok and Ha Jin.--Mara Dabrishus, Ursuline Coll. Lib., Pepper Pike, OH

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

 

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from February 1, 2016

    Dutiful Jane Re, a half-Korean/half-American orphan living in Flushing, Queens, and working in her strict uncle's grocery store, tries to escape her lot in life by becoming the au pair for the Mazer-Farleys, English professors in Brooklyn who have adopted a Chinese girl. She soon falls in love with Mr. Ed Farley, despite the existence of Beth Mazer, his feminist wife. An emergency trip to Seoul because of a death in the family pushes her to consider her choices, especially her budding affair with her boss. The contrasts among the different environments in which Jane finds herself-her uncle's grocery store, the Mazer-Farleys's Brooklyn neighborhood, and modern-day Korea- are vivid and pronounced and reflect the different cultures that make up and sometimes cause conflict within the heroine's identity. The young woman's struggle to find the balance between what her family and tradition expect from her and what she hopes to fashion for herself will ring true for teens. The witty and charming protagonist will win over readers. Pair with Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea for a nuanced look at Jane Eyre retellings. VERDICT This fun, contemporary, and moving reimagining of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre offers an honest look at life between two cultures and the importance of living for oneself-Shelley Diaz, School Library Journal

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.