Book Review: In Order to Live


A haunting, personal story of determination.

When I picked up this book, I knew that it wasn’t going to be a quick fun read but my God, I was not prepared for how many breaks I would need to take while reading this.

Yeonmi Park escaped North Korea and ran to the border under the cover of night at the age of 13, after living a childhood in abject poverty. That is enough of an ordeal for a child to go through but in order to live and survive, she is also forcibly sold as a child bride and raped repeatedly, viewing her own mother’s rape as well. She’s forced to convert to Christianity in order to gain safe passage through the desert with Christian missionaries and finally makes it to South Korea where she realizes not only how huge the world really is, but how behind she is in so many aspects.

Honestly, this book was beautiful and inspiring and wrecked me emotionally. I don’t know how anyone was able to live through what Yeonmi has, but I think she’s incredible in every way. It really opened my mind to what life in North Korea is like. I supposed I always thought of it as a country that chose to be isolated, but I never realized the extent of that isolation. The fact that they have no working electricity blew me away and made me terrified for the people living there. Reading about the brainwashing and doublethink the Park family experienced was overwhelming and Yeonmi’s ability to write about her life in such a relatable and compelling way is astounding considering her life is a complete opposite from my childhood. I would highly recommend everyone pick this up.

Title: In Order to Live
Author: Yeonmi Park
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 273
ISBN: 9781594206795

Three Descriptors: Heartwrenching, Candid, Honest,

Read Alikes:
Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden
A River in Darkness by Masaji Ishikawa
Escaping North Korea by Mike Kim
The girl with seven names by Hyeonseo Lee


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