A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

This story required some serious research on the part of the author. It made me wonder if everything was completely accurate or if the author was making up some of it. As I saw in the author’s note, it was a little of both. Yet, I would never have known it. I was told once that a good author can make anything sound convincing even if they don’t know what they are talking about. Park does this well. Not to say she didn’t know what she was talking about, but she mixed the fact with the fiction so seamlessly that one would not be able to distinguish between the two. Park also does a fabulous job of taking a traditional Korean story model and developing a tale of triumph. Placing the story in 12th century Korea was a shrewd move, as it was an era for high art and allows the reader to really explore the beauty of that culture. It’s a tribute to Park that she doesn’t over sentamentalize or orientalize the world that she depicts. Although I am a little curious about the choice of the boys name ‘Tree-ear’, which did not read very well, but one got used to it in the end. It is a common story structure, but it works unfailingly through Park’s convincing and inspired narrative and the backdrop of a previously uncharted terrain of 12th century Korea.