Shelter: A Novel - Jung Ha-Yun

Shelter tells the story of Kyoung and his family, who are having financial issues and are forced to sell their house. Their lives changes to the worse, when Kyoungs mother one morning is standing in their backyard, naked, disoriented and badly bruised. What has happened to Kyoungs mother? Is his father to blame? Or has something entirely else happened?


Shelter is a hard-hitting, bleak and depressing family drama, something which I tend to like. And I really liked the first two thirds of the book and the conflict between Kyoung and his wife Gillian. Kyoung has been raised with the notion, that his parents are more important than anything else, even his wife and his own child. And I really liked the exploration of Kyoungs conflict, being torn between his Korean upbringing and his American lifestyle.

But this is the only positive thing I can say about this book and towards the end it took a complete nosedive. I don´t need to have spelled everything out for me in the end, but I like to have some sense of closure when a story finishes. And this book just left me with the most unsatisfactory feeling, since I don´t have a clue what is going to happen with the characters after the book has finished. The good thing is I don´t even care, because the ending has been a lackluster one.


My biggest problem though is that I dislike the main character Kyoung with a vengeance. Ok, his relationship with his parents is problematic, but he is just pathetic, whiny and mind-numbingly stupid when it comes to making decisions. And he blames his parents for everything that goes wrong in his life. He dismisses everyone, who is kind towards him. He married his wife for the most unfathomable reason and he won´t win the "father-of-the-year"-award anytime soon. He is one of the most infuriating characters I have ever read about.


My initial rating for this book has been three stars, but after having thought about it for the last two days, I´m dropping my rating to two stars. I have to admit, just thinking about this book makes me angry. If you want to read a really good family drama pick up Celeste Ngs Everything I Never Told You and leave this one on its shelf.