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Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite
Born in South Korea to a single mother who is abandoned by her American boyfriend, Lee Young Nam seems to be destined to lead the life of an outcast. Joel Peterson’s Dreams of My Mothers is a chronicle of his life from an obscure South Korean village to a loving family in Minnesota. Extremely poor with the worst prospects in life, his mother Lee Hee Ae resorts to prostitution and they both sink into a life of abject poverty and misery. In a twist of fate, Lee Young Nam is adopted by a loving family in the United States of America and his life takes a different turn. The young boy tries to adapt to his new life and he eventually attains financial success, but his past catches up with him.
Based on a true story, Dreams of My Mothers is a gripping tale of a little boy who goes through so much suffering and misery in his young life. Author Joel Peterson is a master story teller with a creative writing style that is both vivid and captivating so that it is easy to empathize with Lee Young Nam. Just as he sinks deeper into wretchedness and despair, hope comes when he is adopted by an American couple. We lost track of his South Korean mother at some point, but she actually never left the young boy. The story expands with Lee Young Nam travelling to South Korea and one slowly realizes that he is on some kind of a quest. The setting changes from the present to the past and vice versa, and at every turn of the page, it becomes clear that he is in search of something that will hopefully make his life complete. The question is: will he find what he is looking for? This book is highly recommended!