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The Foundling

Author: Stacey Halls

Publisher: Manilla Press, 2020

 

Reviewed by Nadirah Nissanto.

Kim Jiyoung lives in a small, clean apartment on the edge of the busy city of Seoul. She is a ‘millennial everywoman’ who is in her thirties. She recently quit her white-collar desk job to care for her newborn daughter full-time, which is what many Korean women are expected to do. But she soon starts to act strangely, which scares her husband, parents, and in-laws. Jiyoung starts to imitate the voices of other women, both living and dead, some of whom she knows and some of whom she doesn't. As her psychosis gets worse, her husband, who is scared, sends her to a male psychiatrist.

Jiyoung's whole life is told to the psychiatrist in a chilling, eerie third-person voice. The story is full of different parts about frustration, persistence, and giving up. Jiyoung was born in 1982 and given the most common name for Korean girls. She quickly becomes the sister no one likes because her little brother is a prince. Men are always telling her what to do, from the elementary school teachers who make girls wear uniforms to the coworkers who put a hidden camera in the women's bathroom and post photos of the women online. In the eyes of her father, it's Jiyoung's fault that men bother her late at night. In the eyes of her husband, it's Jiyoung's duty to quit her job and take care of him and their child to put them first.

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