I’ve been immersed in the world of children’s picture books, so it is time for a novel. Let’s take a look at The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See for Book Beginnings on Fridays.

Book Beginnings is a fun meme hosted by Rose City Reader blog. To participate, share the first sentence or so of a novel you are reading and your thoughts about it. When you are finished, add your URL to the Book Beginnings page linked above. Hope to see you there!



The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

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Summary:  This is a historical fiction novel about two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju named Mi-ja and Young-sook. Although their backgrounds are very different, the two become close friends and train to become haenyeo, the famed female divers the island is known for. However, when their close friendship is put to the test by outside forces, one of the young women makes a decision that throws their lives into turmoil.

First Sentence:

Day 1:  2008

An old woman sits on the beach, a cushion strapped to her bottom, sorting algae that has washed ashore, She’s used to spending time in the water, but even on land she’s vigilant to the environment around her. Jeju is her home, an island known for Three Abundances:  wind, stones, and women.


Although I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction, I chose this book because I am interested in the setting and the culture of the Korean female divers. I read a memoir about the daughter of a diver who eventually made her way to Texas and it “wet” my appetite for more (sorry). Plus, Lisa See presented at the virtual Tucson Book Festival this month and I wanted to learn more about her books.

According to the chapter headings, the novel weaves back and forth between two threads. One thread is narrow, covering a few days in 2008, the other goes back to 1938 and chronicles the broad history up to 1975.


The Friday 56 is hosted by Freda’s Voice. The premise is simple. Turn to page 56 in the book and pick a quote.


“We are not bad people,” the lieutenant interrupted. “We’ve had to crack down on troublemakers, but we are husbands and fathers too”

Sounds like part of those “outside forces” that are going to test the girls’ friendship.

What do you think? Have you read anything by Lisa See? Do you like historical fiction? Would you read this one?