The song of life, Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (11/09)

“Grace Notes” tells the story of the author Sang-Eun Lee Bukaty’s life.  She began her journey in Korea during the war.  Being born into a prestigious family, she still experienced many hardships when she had to flee her home, with her family, to survive.  Upon returning home and settling down again, she knew that she was different from the rest of her family.  She had to deal with being ostracized by them because she did not have their book smarts.  Being a top student and getting accepted at a prestigious school was critical for the social standing of both the child and the parents.  Sang-Eun did not feel like she fit into the mold that was decided for her.  She was also devastated when her beloved father passed away while she was still very young.

When she discovered a love for music, she found her true calling.  This brought her a great deal of respect.  But it also meant that she had to learn how to deal with the stresses involved with the intense training and performances.  Deciding that the United States offered some exceptional opportunities for her to be educated, she made the journey over to attend college.  Being unofficially adopted by an American couple, she was introduced to the American way of life.  At times she found it fascinating; other times once again, she did not feel like she was a part of it.  Through her music she continued to express herself.

When she met her first husband, who was also Korean, she felt comfortable because they shared their culture; however, she was not totally at peace with him because of his controlling ways and lack of Christian faith.  She pulled away from her music.  She did have three beautiful daughters with him that helped give her life meaning and strengthen her faith.  Reaching within herself for strength and a desire to have her daughters grow up in a happy home, she divorced her husband.  In time she found a great love to share her life with.

“Grace Notes” by Sang-Eun Lee Bukaty is a beautiful, contemplative reflection of one woman’s journey through life.  In both her homeland and in her newfound land Sang-Eun experiences feeling different from others.  She has some incredible people enter her life as teachers.  Not all of the lessons learned from these people were easy.  Her faith in Christ, and her love for her family, carries her a long way through her experiences.  I highly recommend this novel to readers who enjoy biographies, women’s reader groups, and to families of immigrants.  So much wisdom will be gained by seeing life through Sang-Eun’s eyes.

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