Monday, September 19, 2011
Isadora Myung Hee Sohn—Isa—worships her mother, an exceptional beauty, born in Seoul and sheltered in a harem of sisters inside the wealthy family’s compound. Isa’s father, a scientist and professor, an orphan, is haunted by the war in which he served as a South Korean soldier and by a painful secret that he keeps from his wife. Still mourning the death of Isa’s younger brother, Stephen, her parents are traditional enough to prize their dead son over their living daughter; to them, Isa only half exists.
But unlike many Asian American daughters, Isa is neither meek nor a quiet victim of tradition. Despite her parents’ success and sophistication—they’ve achieved the American dream—she repudiates their values, embarks on her own sexual education, and runs away with an albino boy, Hero. At the same time, Isa suspects that despite her mother’s strict adherence to Korean traditional values, she is involved with another man, and Isa determines to make the affair known. What begins as a child’s unthinking fury at her mother soon leads to more deadly consequences.