In a recent game with a friend, we jokingly picked out each other’s Patronus animals — the mythical guardians used in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series that protects one from harm. When I confessed that I imagined mine own to be the image of a lioness, he laughed. “Oh great,” he said quickly. “Run around and kill things.”
For the record, the lioness does kill stuff. And she does it better than most of her male counterparts. However, it’s less about blood lust and everything to do with responsibility and true nature: she hunts to feed her entire family (male lions included) and kills to protect the friends, family and lions that she loves. It’s what she’s born to do.
It’s a similar quality I’m growing attracted to in novels about women today. How we are able to balance our love for what matters most with the responsibilities and challenges we face in life. And with this month’s book pick from North Korea defector Lucia Jan, Stars Between The Sun And Moon, Zenfulie invites you to join in and read how one woman’s lioness heart allowed her to escape life in prison to save herself and her the life of her unborn child.
“Born in the 1970s, Lucia Jang grew up in a common, rural North Korean household—her parents worked hard, she bowed to a photo of Kim Il-Sung every night, and the family scraped by on rationed rice and a small garden. However, there is nothing common about Jang. She is a woman of great emotional depth, courage, and resilience.
Happy to serve her country, Jang worked in a factory as a young woman. There, a man she thought was courting her raped her. Forced to marry him when she found herself pregnant, she continued to be abused by him. She managed to convince her family to let her return home, only to have her in-laws and parents sell her son without her knowledge for 300 won and two bars of soap. They had not wanted another mouth to feed.
By now it was the beginning of the famine of the 1990s that resulted in more than one million deaths. Driven by starvation—her family’s as well as her own—Jang illegally crossed the river to better-off China to trade goods. She was caught and imprisoned twice, pregnant the second time. She knew that, to keep the child, she had to leave North Korea. In a dramatic escape, she was smuggled with her newborn to China, fled to Mongolia under gunfire, and finally found refuge in South Korea before eventually settling in Canada.
With so few accounts by North Korean women and those from its rural areas, Jang’s fascinating memoir helps us understand the lives of those many others who have no way to make their voices known. – Publisher on Amazon
Follow along with Zenfulie on Twitter this month to discuss the book and reflect on both the challenges and triumphs women face around the word. You can find the book on audio, print and in e-book on Amazon.com.