Ghost of Sangju + Soojung Jo + Reviews

Friday, May 08, 2015

"Ghost of Sangju" takes readers through Soojung Jo's childhood in Kentucky filled with joy, family, friendship—and the loneliness of being marked as an outsider even in her own home. Alternating between humor and heartbreak, she offers a glimpse into a life foreign to most: that of a West Point cadet and her return to South Korea, the country that had once sent her away. Soojung vividly paints a portrait of marriage, parenthood (as both a biological and adoptive mother) and the tumultuous emotions of reuniting, rediscovering, and reestablishing lost familial bonds. "Ghost of Sangju" is a story of one woman’s journey to merge her two selves, and the universal search for self-discovery, identity, and reconciliation.

Praise For Ghost of Sangju

Soojung Jo writes with clarity, wisdom, and the bravery required to fully illuminate the human condition. This is a brilliant and cinematic debut, heart-wrenching and triumphant, liberating and expansive. From Kentucky to South Korea, from West Point to parenthood, from anger and grief to healing and joy, this is a vital contribution to adoption and American literature. This is an exciting and beautiful new voice.

- Lee Herrick, author of "Gardening Secrets of the Dead"

Soojung Jo is trying to create an urtext with "Ghost of Sangju", the urtext of her identity. She is trying to take control of the act of making. The reader has the sense that this is the book Jo has always been writing and always will write, and yet that it is a book she could only have written after reuniting with her Korean family. It is no mistake that I read in these pages the same comparison to the velveteen rabbit made real by love that I myself have expressed as an adoptee parent. This is a narrative that will bring an adoptee to tears, that closes in on the “primal” state Jo is interested in.

- Matthew Salesses, author of "The Hundred-Year Flood"

Soojung Jo has a written a book that is honest, riveting, and at points, incredibly heartbreaking. Early on, Jo reveals that as a child, she wasn't sure if she was real or not real; one gets the sense that "Ghost of Sangju" is a testimony, a demonstration to both the world and herself that she is, in fact, extremely real, that her experiences and history are important to chronicle. If decades of literature have hidden adoptee stories such as Jo's from view, with this brave memoir Jo has firmly asserted that her narrative, and others like it, can no longer be ignored.

- Karissa Chen, author of "Of Birds and Lovers", and Hyphen Magazine fiction and poetry editor

This memoir by Soojung Jo offers a most unique perspective on adoption through the singular lens of a daughter, adoptee, wife, birth mother, and adoptive mother. She finds a way to tell her story with humor, a sharp wit, heartbreaking vulnerability, and unflinching honesty.

- Randy Reyes, Artist Director, Mu Performing Arts

Ghost of Sangju should be required reading for all Asian Americans because it is the kind of story that is bigger than just Soojung Jo. It is a story of identity. It speaks to the heart of the struggle for all people of color who live in a country where—just because of the way they look—are considered perpetual foreigners.

- Koji Steven Sakai, Screenwriter/Producer and Vice President of Programs, Japanese American National Museum

Ghost of Sangju is a valuable contribution to the adoptee-memoir canon, and I recommend that adoption professionals and prospective parents in particular read this book. It is time that these narratives are honored and validated, so that birth families and adoptees do not have to exist, as Soojun writes, as "a sprit suspended between two worlds and two families, to be forever in between."

- JaeRan Kim, PhD, adoption and child welfare researcher and author of the blog, "Harlow's Monkey"

*General disclosure as a newsbyte that I am also one of the publishers of this book*