K-popped! received an “uncorrected proof” of Korean-American author Nami Mun’s debut novel last year (don’t you just love doing that? Like it happened a long time ago, but in fact we received it a week back) and here’s a short review of Miles from Nowhere.
Is the novel an interesting read? Sure it is. Is the book a can’t-put-down page-tuner? No, it isn’t.
Miles from Nowhere is a work of fiction about Joon, a teenage Korean immigrant living in the Bronx in the 1980s.
Joon’s philandering father walks out on the family, leaving her Bible-toting mother in a near-catatonic state. The 13-year-old then decides to eke out a living on her own. And boy, does she fall in with the wrong crowd – big time.
Joon goes from a homeless shelter to an escort club, struggles with addiction, an unwanted pregnancy and takes on odd jobs such as hawking Avon cosmetics and newspapers.
Nonetheless, the protagonist – who seems to be experiencing a lifetime of hardship – is most of the time positive even when in dire straits. This tough cookie is always making do or trying to find the good in her situation.
Joon’s story doesn’t unfold linearly and only highlights certain episodes in her sad life. The narrative jumps from one “memory” to the next without much warning.
I couldn’t appreciate that as there were moments where I found myself playing catch-up/ back-tracking the protagonist’s thoughts, especially when a flashback occurred. It was annoying to feel lost while reading the book.
Apart from that, I didn’t feel involved in Joon’s plight. Perhaps it’s because the reader is only shown windows into Joon’s life…and not allowed in through the door.
Miles from Nowhere makes an OK read. It isn’t a riveting novel nor is it one that leaves a lasting impression.