Daughters of the Dragon: A Comfort Woman’s Story, by William Andrews
Series: The Dragon #1
Published by Lake Union Publishing, 28th June 2016 (first published in 2008)
Genres: Historical fiction, drama, war, WWII, Asian literature
Format: Kindle eBook
Trigger warnings: sexual violence, beatings
Twenty-year-old Anna Carlson was adopted to the United States from Korea. When she decides to travel to the orphanage in Korea where she was born, in the hopes of finding her birth mother, she is ultimately disappointed. However, she meets a stranger who has a very important story to tell, one that Anna needs to hear to understand her past and herself.
Hong Jae-hee was only a young girl when she was conscripted, along with hundreds of thousands of other Korean women, to serve the occupying Japanese soldiers as “comfort women”. As Jae-hee tells her story, one of survival against all odds, Anna discovers that she has inherited a legacy beyond her wildest imagination.
This was a very thought-provoking read. I had no knowledge of the comfort women or their story, but I was so intrigued that I went and did some research after finishing the book. It is incredible to me that a group of old women, former comfort women, protest every Wednesday outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul. These protests started in 1992, and continue to this day. Japan has never fully admitted that these were war crimes committed against the women of Korea, nor formally apologized for any of them.
The book itself is wonderfully written, with incredible characters and such evocative descriptions. The switching of timelines between the present, with Anna and Jae-hee sitting in her apartment, to the many incredible stories from Jae-hee’s life, gives the book a great pace and flow.
Although this book was not an easy read, it was completely eye-opening for me. And I love learning about history and other places from the books I read. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys history and historical fiction.
My rating: 4/5