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In Full Bloom
by Caroline Hwang

Category: Fiction / General
291 pages; ISBN: 0525947116

Rating: 9/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner


In Full Bloom
Caroline Hwang
Plume, Feb 2004, $13.00, 291 pp.
ISBN: 0525947116

Korean American Ginger Lee enjoys her New York lifestyle. Ginger gave up on attaining a PhD and ultimately becoming an English professor. Instead she currently works as an assistant drone at what she dubs “Waste” magazine for the brain drain of the staff. She is also quite comfortable with no long term relationship with men.

However, Ginger’s mom arrives unannounced from Milwaukee with plans to matchmake her with purebred Korean males. Mom refuses to allow Ginger to go down the unholy path of her other child George who committed family heresy by marrying a white woman. Ginger cannot turn to her sibling for help because he has severed the family ties so instead she agrees to go out with some of her mom’s choice cut. At work cat-fighting may cost Ginger her job. Turning to her only ally mom for solace and strategy, Ginger begins to reconsider her heritage. She starts recognizing that though a Manhattanite, she is also a Korean-American. Accepting the complete Ginger is the only way that she becomes IN FULL BLOOM.

This well written novel cleverly moves along on two obvious levels. First is the noticeable New York scene including the publishing infighting war. Second is the traditional Korean lifestyle modified in America as portrayed by mom with her take on life including marriage and her vividly uttered Korean-English that showcases a first generation individual. However the urban old country tie supports the genuinely brilliant message that the whole person cannot ignore their roots as in a sense it is not whether you can go home, but that “home” came with you.

Harriet Klausner


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