Five Stones
by Jennifer R. Kim

Self, 2014. ISBN 978-1-503-34763-2.
Reviewed by Enid Cokinos
Posted on 06/10/2015

Fiction: Multicultural; Fiction: Mainstream

Jennifer Kim's novel, Five Stones, is an enjoyable read packed with believable characters and engaging dialogue. The story, set in current-day San Francisco, centers on the Kim Family. The five daughters—Mihae, Jihae, Soonhae, Kihae and Marhae—are all born in United States, but they are still held to the standards of their Korean heritage, particularly as it pertains to courting and marriage.

Though Mrs. Kim loves her five daughters—each unique in her own way—her attitude toward them is clear: after graduating from college, she wants them married.

When her daughters were children, they were like five beautiful jewels strung around her neck...As they grew older, the worries over their future, specifically the question of marriage, turned the precious jewels into rough stones. Some were smaller than others, but all of them heavy, jagged and cutting. With each passing year, the five stones around her neck grew heavier, and the pressing burden was unbearable at times.
Mihae and Jihae, the two oldest daughters, who have "utterly failed to procure a husband, acceptable or not," cannot escape their mother's determination as she sets up suhn after suhn (a blind marriage date, sometimes accompanied by the dating pair's mothers) without their approval. They protest, but the strong-willed Mrs. Kim is unrelenting.

The middle daughter, Soonhae, has other plans for her life, and the two younger daughters are not yet of marrying age. Though Mrs. Kim's focus is on her two oldest daughters, it does not stop her from fretting about her younger daughters, hoping they will find husbands at the appropriate time, as well.

Romance blossoms throughout the book, but several twists and turns keep the reader wondering if Mihae and Jihae will ever find true love. It is an enjoyable read, but unfortunately, this self-published book did not undergo a thorough editorial review for grammar, punctuation, and style, which is reflected in the overall rating.

Jennifer R. Kim was born in Chinhae, Korea, and immigrated with her family to the United States when she was ten, settling in Newark, California. Kim graduated from UC Berkeley with a mechanical engineering degree and went to work for Bechtel in San Francisco, and later in Silicon Valley, working in the semi-conductor industry. She had an essay published in the San Francisco Chronicle and a short story published in The Literary Realm. This is her first book. Visit her blog.

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