Every Falling Star : The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea
by Lee, Sungju; McClelland, Susan






"Every Falling Star, the first book to portray contemporary North Korea to a young audience, is the intense memoir of a North Korean boy named Sungju who is forced at age twelve to live on the streets and fend for himself. To survive, Sungju creates a gang and lives by thieving, fighting, begging, and stealing rides on cargo trains. Sungju richly re-creates his scabrous story, depicting what it was like for a boy alone to create a new family with his gang, his 'brothers'; to be hungry and to fear arrest,imprisonment, and even execution. This riveting memoir allows young readers to learn about other cultures where freedoms they take for granted do not exist"-





Sungju Lee speaks across Europe, Asia, and North America about his experiences and about North Korean political social issues. He lives in South Korea but studies in England.

Susan Elizabeth McClelland’s first book, Bite of the Mango, was a worldwide sensation, published in more than 30 countries. She lives in Toronto, Canada.





Growing up in an elite family in Pyonyang, Lee revered Kim Il-sung and aspired to a career in the military. In Pyonyang, it was easy to believe in Kim Il-sung's message, but when Lee and his family were exiled to the outer reaches of the country, the truth was too hard to ignore. Lee faced famine, poverty, and desolation in his new home, and when his parents disappeared, he was forced into a life in a street gang, stealing food and fighting other gangs of boys in order to survive. With the help of journalist McClelland, Lee recalls his hardscrabble years on the streets of North Korea and offers a firsthand account of the horrendous conditions facing the country's citizens. Perspectives like Lee's are hard to come by, and while the language is occasionally stilted, his experiences in the propaganda-fueled regime and eventual escape are nevertheless riveting. This harrowing tale evokes the same sort of dystopian futures imagined in contemporary YA novels, and it's a chilling reminder that such places exist right now in reality. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.





A pampered son of the elite survives a nightmarish ordeal in this page-turner of a memoir.Sungju Lee's carefree life, playing with his rare pedigreed dog and watching cartoons, comes to an abrupt end at age 11 when his family is banished to a remote seaside town after his army officer father transgresses in unspecified ways. The mid-1990s famine that eventually killed over 1 million North Koreans soon takes its toll, as each of his parents leaves in search of food and does not return. Teaming up with several friends, Lee travels the country—stealing in markets; fighting other gangs for territory; smoking, drinking, and using opium; getting arrested and imprisoned; finding clients for a madam's "nightflowers"; and losing two of his friends in brutal attacks. Straightforward prose prevents this harrowing tale from overwhelming readers, but at times it may emotionally distance them. Over time the boys shed their faith in the regime but never give up on dreams of reunion wi th their families. A short foreword offers readers some historical context, but the story's emphasis on the dangers of daily survival mirrors Lee's lack of awareness at the time of larger political events. This fast-paced story will likely compel its readers to learn more about North Korea after finishing it. (Memoir. 12-18) Copyright Kirkus 2016 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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