Journeying from Queens to Brooklyn to Seoul, and back, this is a fresh, contemporary retelling of Jane Eyre and a poignant Korean American debut.
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 19th-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.
A cautionary tale for Audio fans - this could be a really fun book to read, but beware this narrator!
I loved the take on "Jane Eyre", the characters are bright and involving, and the twist on the old story is entirely appropriate for modern audiences. This is a mish-mash of cultural clashes and identities, of academic farce (Victorian Women's Studies!) and political correctness. It moves easily from New York to South Korea and back again- and our Jane does indeed learn a lot about life and love and belonging.
But I nearly returned this audio book, and the reason is the narrator. Seriously, it's difficult to bear throughout. Diana Bang literally "reads" this as if she were experiencing the words and public recital for the first time. Exactly the same emphasis is placed on each and every word - including "is" and "a" and "the"! The cadence is always the same. It diminished the experience for me, and I am looking forward to getting a hard copy.
I'd advise listening to the sample carefully before committing to this listen. "Re Jane" has proven (to me, at least) that, once again, the reader can make or break even the most interesting of books.
17 of 17 people found this review helpful
This was my book club's selection which I wouldn't have picked on my own because I'm not a fan of coming-of-age stories. However, I was intrigued by the novel being cross-cultural and I have lived in both NYC and Seoul, so I was actually looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately, Ms. Bang destroyed this novel with her narration. She read this as if she was on stage at a poetry slam. I wish I had abandoned the audio version and read the book on my Kindle.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
I grew up straddling two cultures and I found that this book not only nailed a lot of the feelings I've had over the years when visiting both sides but it was well-written, funny, and true to life -- as we are all non-perfect human beings. I also loved learning more about Korean culture. I was in South Korea for the first time last month through my taekwondo training. So many things in her descriptions made me laugh and want to go back. Thank you for a wonderful story! I learned about this book via her interview on NPR.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
Not a good book unless you are at teenager maybe.
The story doesn't really have much of a pay off and the writing style just wasn't for me. Perhaps others will enjoy.
Some of the accents used in the audio version are cringe inducing.
it was hard to listen to. first book I have ever returned. terrible performance. Diana Bang shouldn't narrate ever again. unless maybe a Shatner memoir.
it seems to me that the author completely misunderstand the Bronte Jane Eyre, instead of finding a modern Jane, the author sites a sempering and mini-mouthed shell. Jane is so desperate for affection she falls for her married employer who offers her nothing but McDonald's and food he hides from his wife. As from tier first sexual encounter of is clear of the authors bias against the Jane and Edward romance. Jane is led like a dog the whole book and the author spends more time fleshing out side characters that we leave the book worth no sense of completion. I have no aversion to a changed ending of it could leave me complete but this book falls woefully short.