Reviews for The House Before Falling Into the Sea

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

During the Korean War, a family adjusts as they take in refugees in their Busan home. As Umma and Appa usher the families inside their small coastal home, Kyung Tak is asked to welcome them. Among the strangers, Kyung finds a friend, Sunhee, who cries as she tells Kyung how men from the north took her father’s fishing boat. Kyung gives the older girl a fish-shaped stone for comfort. As more people arrive, the constant noise, increasing chores, and lack of space start to take a toll. A siren sounds one day, and everyone rushes to the underground shelter to wait in the darkness. Even after they emerge, Kyung feels the darkness linger and cries, longing to return to life before the war, before they took in so many strangers. The family comforts Kyung, and the guests reveal that they nicknamed the Taks’ home “the house before falling into the sea” because if it weren’t for the family’s kindness, they might have been chased by soldiers off the cliffs. Drawing from her own family’s experiences, Wang has crafted a lyrical gem of a story. Adopting a child’s perspective, the author manages to make topics such as warfare and loss of one’s home comprehensible to a young audience, while Cha’s bold strokes and splashes of color convey movement and enhance the emotional weight of the subject. A poignant tale of light in the darkness—and compassion in times of war. (author’s and illustrator’s notes, questions to consider, glossary, guide to Korean names) (Picture book. 5-8) Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.