“...although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.”
-Helen Keller, Optimism
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“I realize now that this is a family reunion, and I am the reason for it. I’m awestruck by this circumstance, by how important every person in the world is, and by how many people even a baby can touch. How could I have ever thought that I was unimportant? That nobody missed me? Every person is so significant, sometimes even more so through their absence.”
-Soojung Jo, Ghost of Sangju
Read this memoir. You need to read this memoir.
Ghost of Sangju: A Memoir of Reconciliation is a story that will resonate not only with those connected to adoption but with those connected to the human condition. It is the telling of not only devastating loss and suffering but also the overcoming of that loss and suffering.
Of all the memoirs I have read, this memoir stands out to me--not only because of its emotional honesty but because of its emotional vulnerability. It is not simply an account of one woman’s odyssey through adoption and reunion, but rather a raw and poignant expression of what the journey of an adopted life can feel like, and ultimately, of what it means to find triumph in defeat, redemption in tragedy, humanity in inhumanity.
Ghost of Sangju is a candid, stunning pouring out of one’s heart and life. It is a painfully beautiful portrait of a woman and a family learning to reconcile profound tragedy and redemption, despair and loss, pain and healing.
One caveat, however--Ghost of Sangju is not your typical “feel-good” adoption story. Hence, if you are an adoptive parent looking for a pat on the back or affirmation of your martyrdom and saviorhood, then this is not the book for you. If you are an adoptee looking for another adoptee lauding how simple and easy is adopted life, then this is not the book for you.
However, if you are looking for a book that is so daringly honest and emotionally graphic that you will feel--against your will--your heart despair and your eyes swell, then this is the book for you. If you are longing for a memoir that acknowledges the unraveling complexities and the unspeakable depth of emotion that characterize adopted life, then this is the book for you. If you want to do more than know what adopted life is like--but you want to feel what adopted life is like--then this is the book for you.
This is also the book for you if you embrace the reality and intensity of human adversity and heartache in the context of ultimate triumph and hope.
Ghost of Sangju will continue to haunt you, long after you have turned the final page--but not a haunting that keeps you awake at night with whispers of fear and terror, but rather a lingering that will simultaneously stir and soothe you with songs of longing and fulfillment, strife and peace, loss and reclamation.
Read Ghost of Sangju today and journey into a life that reminds us all, whether adopted or not adopted, that fully embracing one’s story is not for the faint of heart, but neither is it for the hard of heart. That true courage is not the absence of fear and despair, pain and sorrow, but rather the acceptance of their existence as a necessary bridge on the journey to love and wholeness, hope and reconciliation.
Thank you, Soojung Jo, for your courage, your vulnerability, and most of all, for your shared humanity.