Review on Re Jane by Patricia Park

I just finished reading Re Jane by Patricia Park a few days ago. The one that I wished I did before reading it was probably to read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte again before tearing right into this book. I haven’t read Jane Eyre in years ever since I was in high school. We covered the Bronte’s sisters other works in college. What pains me is that we never spend enough time dissecting some of the books we cover in school which unjust. I will be comparing Jane Eyre to Re Jane based on what I remember about the book.

Re Jane started off as a really down to earth book putting a huge emphasize on cultural differences and self searching of one’s self. It pulled me right in with its easy going style of writing and vibrant details of Flushing, New York. The visual details were very sharp and the emotional details were beautifully inserted in between. Park tells from Jane’s point of view of how immigrants are in America especially Asian immigrants. How they open their own laundry shops, grocery stores, body shops, trying to fit in and make a living. It was very heart touching and relatable to me because though I was born in Chicago, my parents came to the U.S. as immigrants and it was like watching how they may have struggled too. Throughout the entire book Park bounces back and forth between the two different cultures of americans and asians. Park shows how girls in asian families are meant to be raised according to their culture, obedient, submitting, humble, no back talk, and to not dishonor their family. Whereas in the character Devon, who is the adopted daughter of Beth and Ed has the freedom to do as she pleases as long as Beth allows and is able to talk back and question her adoptive parents. 
In Jane Eyre, Jane is seen as an enlightened women who wants to free enslaved woman from the male despotism. She wants to preach liberty to women who are enslaved. She wants women to become greater than their male counterparts. Now in Re Jane, Beth is the feminist in the story and she is constantly proving her dominance, her success, her strength, her power, over her husband and daughter. She tries to influence Jane in the book and I believe that it doesn’t have much of an effect from my understanding. Jane sees Beth as the one ruining the family with her inflexible personality. 

In terms of how love plays out in Re Jane, Jane falls for Ed Farley which is no surprise to be as Jane fell for Rochester in Jane Eyre. The love relationship in Re Jane between Ed and Jane is love that is driven by passion and the love they have for each other from those late night heroes in the kitchen, the understanding they shared about each other’s troubles when dealing with Beth. Jane is roughly ten years younger than Ed. Jane always complained how Ed seemed to have already done so much in life and she hadn’t done anything because her family had kept her tied down for so many years. Jane seemed jealous at some times during the book of how experienced Ed was and she hadn’t experienced anything on her own. This is the main and constant problem between Ed and Jane. Jane is independent and strong and wants to go out into the world and see for herself for what the world has to offer. Ed is scared of losing her as he is always portrayed by Park as the one who is clingy and claiming he couldn’t live without her. He has already experienced his youth and is ready to settle down with Jane but Jane is not. She still has so much she wants to do that she is sad that Ed doesn’t understand. Jane wants to be respected and wants Ed to see eye to eye with her but when he doesn’t she knew that it was over. No matter how right something felt with someone, as long as the timing was wrong and place was wrong then it was never going to work. If Jane had been older or experienced much more, perhaps it would have worked out. 

There was another love interest in Seoul named Changhoon for Jane when she was there. I really loved their little love story there but Jane was only using Changhoon as a temporary replacement for what happened with Ed. She didn’t really love him and he was the perfect guy in every aspect. What made me almost cry was when Jane said she couldn’t marry him and he said he loved her so much and was saddened that she didn’t love him enough. He asked if she could try a little harder but Jane said no. This is a good lesson for everyone that when you really love someone, anyone else you date no matter how perfect they are is never enough for you and you can never love them as you love who you truly love. Do not settle for what appears before you but follow what your heart wants. 

My favorite character…would have to be Nina who is Jane’s good friend. Nina is the same age as Jane and started off as a really airy and loud girl who always challenged Jane to change and improve on herself. Nina helped her build self-confidence and self-will something that Jane’s family took away from her. Nina’s character breaks when she breaks up with her boyfriend. Nina becomes more mature and advises Jane to stop lying to herself about the feelings she had for Ed. Nina stood by Jane through more difficult times as one and she’s just amazing and is similar to a mentor for Jane in my opinion. 

All the characters in this book is amazing and are so surreal. An amazing contemporary retelling of Jane Eyre. Park’s style of storytelling is lively and humorous, serious and heartbreaking when needed. I would recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in a light read but with a meaningful life lesson in it. 


First Book Review On The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

I just finished this book this morning. Many people have been saying that Amanda Coplin is the next John Steinbeck. I have been thinking about this having read East of Eden a few years ago by Steinbeck, and I have to agree that their styles are alike or at least similar in many ways and captures details, streams of consciousness, showing the different phases, sides of a human so brilliantly. I simply cannot wait for Amanda Coplin’s next book, its hard to believe this is her debut. She is indeed the next John Steinbeck!

This book captivated me the moment I saw it in an email from barnes and nobles about it being a new release. I read the synopsis and the cover art called out to me strongly. I hesitated about buying it at first but the synopsis of the story kept popping up in my thoughts for days and finally went to get it. I dove right into it and it grabbed me tightly already on the first page.

The author’s changed of perspective and shifts between the characters don’t bother me because that’s how I write my stories too. I shift a lot between viewpoints. The message I got from the book was that we all have choices, we are all stubborn in what we believe, we fear that solitude of loneliness when everyone we love and who knows us best pass away. Yet that solitude becomes a part of who we are but in the same time we fear being alone in the world like Angelene was near the end of the book. I really liked things from Angelene’s point of view. How she thought she could go visit Della yet when she was so close to entering the courthouse, she fled from it. She couldn’t face that inner demon, the emotions, and monster of her childhood. I think a lot of adults nowadays are like that too. We all had that monster we couldn’t face whether if it was a blood relative we feared or an event we didn’t want to confront. We may have tried so many times to do so, but we rebounded at the last minute. Found out we weren’t as brave as we thought or as prepared. I haven’t been able to face or confront mine and I am 23. haha. Talmadge had the same issue but his was–how should I say—he still misses his sister and the question goes unanswered if Elsbeth was alive or dead at the end of the novel which disappointed me. I wanted closure to what happened to her. I was waiting for it. Every character in the book had a past, a demon, a monster, events, they didn’t want to bring up, confront or face. Each of them shared a solitude which exists in everyone of us today as well. A solitude they feared but tried to hide it.

I don’t want to blabber too much. I could go on and on and talk about every character. But I’ll stop here because I wanted to just close in on that point. =P. Overall–this is my second top book on the list after East of Eden. I so want to reread it right now but I have a bunch of other books that need to be read. So maybe someday soon I will pick it back up. However, the story and all the characters will remain in my heart and memory for a long time. The impression this book made is terrifying, the characters, the vividly detailed landscapes, every day life detail. I haven’t read a book that had such an impression since East of Eden. Life-altering. I love this book very much. That’s the end of my review. Oh and I loved the cover art it was so breathtaking and suited the theme of the book so well.