Reading Wednesday: Seesaw Girl

illustration by Kelly Murphy of a girl on a Korean seesaw and standing behind a wall

Illustration by Kelly Murphy

Recently read: Linda Sue Park’s first novel, Seesaw Girl (1999), about a girl named Jade in a wealthy family in 17th-century Seoul. The book does such a beautiful job balancing Jade’s very constrained societal role (girls don’t read or write, they never go outside the walls of the family compound until they marry and move to their husband’s home, and then never come back except maybe for a parent’s funeral. And even wealthy women spend a lot of time on laundry) and giving her enough autonomy to make her story at least somewhat satisfying to a contemporary reader accustomed to spunky girl protagonists. She didn’t bust out but she didn’t buckle under either. Delicate work!

The seesaw comes on the scene quite late in the book, and was my introduction to Korean-style seesaws. I think I read in an interview somewhere that Linda Sue Park had one in the backyard for her own kids!

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