Author: Alana Terry
Publisher: CreateSpace April 6, 2013
Theme: Chung-Cha, daughter of an outspoken Christian in North Korea.
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: pdf provided for free from Pump Up Your Book for purpose of review.
About the Book:
Current time period.
Current time period.
In a small North Korean village, a young girl struggles to survive. Catastrophic floods have ravaged her countryside. But it is her father’s faith, not the famine of North Hamyong Province, that most threatens Chung-Cha’s well-being.
Is Chung-Cha’s father right to be such a vocal believer? Or is he a fool to bring danger on the head of his only daughter?
Chung-Cha is only a girl of twelve and is too young to answer such questions. Yet she is not too young to face a life of imprisonment and forced labor. Her crime? Being the daughter of a political dissident.
“The Beloved Daughter” follows Chung-Cha into one of the most notorious prison camps of the contemporary free world. Will Chung-Cha survive the horrors of Camp 22?
And if she does survive, will her faith remain intact?
“The Beloved Daughter” won second place in the 2012 Women of Faith Writing Contest.
A BRUISED REED
“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” Isaiah 42:3
The wind howled, pummeling gusts of snow through the cracks in our cabin walls. If the stinging cold and the hunger pains weren’t enough to keep me awake, my parents’ hushed argument was. I hugged my blanket as I listened to their voices, forceful and angry as the winter gale.
“We can’t risk drawing attention to ourselves,” Mother warned. “These inspectors report to Pyongyang.”
I slipped one eye open, just a crack. I knew my parents were anxious about the arrival of the inspections unit from Pyongyang, our nation’s capital. Kim Jong-Il, the Dear Leader himself, sent these inspectors to Hasambong to weed out any subversive citizens. No one in Hasambong felt safe, even us children.
My parents stood in the middle of our cabin facing each other. Father didn’t move at all. His face reminded me of the statue of our nation’s founder in front of our school. Kim Il-Sung’s bronze image never yielded in rain or snow or hail or storm but gazed resolutely at his starving citizens with cold and stony eyes.
“I will not renounce the truths of Scripture just to make my life here on this earth a little more comfortable,” Father spat. He was still whispering, but the forcefulness of his words filled our cabin like the roar of the angry Tumen River in flood season. “‘If you falter in times of trouble,’” Father quoted, “‘how small is your strength’!”
Mother swore. “Don’t talk to me about strength! Don’t you think I wish things were different? But they’re not. You think I’m a coward. But I’m the one who watches out for our daughter’s safety while you bring open suspicion upon our household right in front of the inspectors. No, Husband.” Mother pointed a finger in his face.
“It is you who are the coward.”
Instinctively, I longed to rush to Father’s aid. In the candlelight, I saw Father’s frame droop. His shoulders sagged. He looked older and frailer than I ever saw him before. I waited for Father to respond, willing him to defend himself, but he was silent.
“You dare speak to me about courage,” Mother continued, probably unaware that she was close to shouting now. “You don’t realize how much courage it takes to get up every morning and go to work, knowing that my daughter could be interrogated any day by her teachers at that school. Knowing that I’m powerless to worship God like the Good Book says if I want my only child to see her thirteenth birthday. Knowing that my husband thinks I’m an apostate because I would rather see Chung-Cha survive to adulthood. And meanwhile you – for the sake of a mere philosophy – are willing to condemn our entire family to prison camp. Of course you realize what those guards would do to Chung-Cha there, don’t you?” I prayed for sleep to shield me from my mother’s words, and I clenched my thin blanket tight against me.
“And do you know what will happen to Chung-Cha if she dies without ever learning the good news?” Father asked quietly.
“She knows the good news,” Mother insisted. “Why isn’t that enough? Why do you continue to endanger our only child? Especially now with the inspectors here, looking to make an example of traitors?”
“The Lord will care for us,” Father promised. I pretended not to hear the strain in his voice.
“You are certain of God’s provision,” Mother countered.
“Yet if Chung-Cha doesn’t die of cold and hunger this winter, she’ll just as likely die in a prison camp this spring. All because of your recklessness. You have the word of God in your heart.
Why can’t you keep it there instead of speaking so openly and condemning us all?”
Father was speechless. I willed away the sob that was rising in my throat at the sight of my dear father so humiliated. Could Mother be right? I never met anyone like my father, who memorized whole books of the Bible although Scripture was outlawed in North Korea, who whispered the gospel to his co-workers but never was caught. Father’s faith was so strong that I was certain the Hasambong mountains themselves would one day cave in at the sound of his prayers breathed in the darkness. Could this man – whose love for his Creator was so vast that the entire North Hamyong Province hardly seemed large enough to contain it – really be wrong to love God so deeply? Was Father foolish to obey God so fearlessly?
Father always promised that God would care for us just like he cared for the sparrows. Years ago, I was quick and eager to believe Father’s words of faith. But as each month of the famine grew worse, as each night I shivered from the cold and clenched my empty stomach while listening in on my parents’ disagreements, I wondered if my mother could be right. Seeds of doubt found fertile soil in my empty belly.
In our Hasambong village, even the sparrows were falling to the ground from starvation, not to rise again.
Now with the inspectors here, the danger was even more real. The prison camps were more than rumors. Two families in our small village of Hasambong had been relocated since the start of the famine. One couple was caught with a stolen potato.
The other family, whose infant I played with before she starved to death, was accused of cannibalism.
Was Mother right? With the People’s Safety Agency here to inspect us, wouldn’t God understand if Father was less vocal about his faith, given the circumstances and grave dangers to our family?
My father sighed, and I held my breath to hear what he would say in his defense.
“I am not a fool. I know what risks come from following Jesus Christ.” Father’s voice wasn’t angry anymore, but gentle, like the snow that occasionally covered the Hasambong mountainside in a blanket of unblemished white.
“Chung-Cha is a gift from God … as are you.” Father reached out his calloused, work-worn hand to wipe a tear off Mother’s gaunt cheek. She turned away with a disdainful snort.
Father continued, “Nevertheless, if I began to love these gifts more than the One who entrusted them to me, then I would not be able to look my Savior in the face when I stand before him and give an account of my life.
“It is God who gives me breath.” The confidence of Father’s quiet confession filled our cabin with uncharacteristic warmth. “And as long as my old worn-out heart keeps beating, as long as these tired lungs continue to draw air, I will not remain silent. I cannot. I will proclaim the Good News until my Savior returns to rule the earth or until he calls me home.”
My heart swelled at Father’s words of triumph and faith. I watched Mother’s face to see if she felt the same wave of power, the same surge of hope, that transcended the suffering and fear – even the constant hunger – of our provincial lives in rural North Korea.
Mother brushed past Father and unpinned her hair. She walked to the bed, yanked down the tattered blanket, and hissed, “Your stubborn faith will be the death of us all.”
I loved this book and read the entire story in 24 hours. I could not lay aside the story because I had to know what would happen to Chung-Cha. To say I was absorbed in the story is an understatement.
My list of reasons for giving this story a 5 star review:
- The characters, descriptions, mood, dialogue, plot, drew me in so that I felt a strong emotional investment. I had to stay with the story from start to finish.
- When the story begins Chung-Cha is age twelve. Her home-life was part Christian and part communist belief-which is no belief. Would young Chung-Cha's Christian foundation be strong enough to help her during life in Camp-22? This was a question that I asked through most of the book, which is a big reason why I continued to read it.
- Chung-Cha is a dimensional character. She is not depicted as good and perfect, nor as flawed and imperfect. I saw all angles of her character and appreciated her humanity. Through the story there were events that brought out her best, and others where she failed. I felt this was an example of all of us, no matter our culture or race.
- Chung-Cha evolves and grows in age, personality, emotion, independence and spirit life.
- I thought I knew about communist North Korea before reading this story, I was wrong. I've been given an education about the plight and horrors of the people that live there. It is especially fearful for the Christian. The story focused on a family where one parent is an outspoken Christian, the other parent does not have a belief. The North Korean government uses division in a family to their advantage. The government will use any means to: coerce, lie, blackmail, kidnap, torture, abuse, murder, in order to find out information.
- The story made me face what I would do in the same circumstance. If I were persecuted to the extent that a North Korean Christian was punished, would I stay strong in my faith, or would I give-up and fall-away?
- The author had a goal of bringing to light what life is like in North Korea, and further the persecution that exists for a Christian in North Korea. I feel her goal was accomplished. This story has left a deep impact in my life. The Beloved Daughter is a story I'll not forget.
Voice of the Martyrs: http://www.persecution.com/
Alana Terry is a homeschooling mother of three. “The Beloved Daughter” is her debut Christian novel and won second place in the Women of Faith writing contest. Alana is also the author of "A Boy Named Silas," the story of her son's complicated medical history and "What, No Sushi?" a children's chapter book about the Japanese-American internment.
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By purchasing the paperback $5.00 will be directly donated to the Voice of the Martyrs-North Korea