This heartrending true story of North Korean boy Sungju Lee tells a tragic tale of loss and love. With every time his family suffers, from an extended “vacation”, to the loss of his food and education, he attempts to keep his endurance. But as he struggles to survive the world outside Pyongyang, merely 12 years old, he is brought deeper into the despair and poverty of the rest of his country.
Starting as an innocent boy from Pyongyang, with a high-ranking official as his father and a stay-at-home mother, their family falls hard and fast. They are sent into the countryside, when people merely exist, and it is hard for them to do anything past suffer. Just as he learns the ways of the people around him, he loses others things of his. His father leaves to trade illegally with the Chinese, and his mother leaves to ask his relatives for help. But neither returns. Sungju falls into a gang life of stealing, fighting, and mystery. Will he be able to survive?
Sungju’s transformation from little boy to gang leader comes from several revelations. When he learns that not everyone lives like him, it is hard for him to fathom. But as he changes, he learns to persevere. The story of his mixed loss and success is a bittersweet emotion perfectly portrayed by this touching book.