The Language of Blood

The Language of Blood

A Memoir

Book - 2003
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An adoptee's search for identity takes her on a journey from Minnesota to Korea and back as she seeks to resolve the dualities that have long defined her life: Korean-born, American-raised, never fully belonging to either.

For years, Korean adoptee Jane Jeong Trenka tried to be the ideal daughter. She was always polite, earned perfect grades, and excelled as a concert pianist. She went to church with her American family in small-town Minnesota and learned not to ask about the mother who had given her away. Then, while she was far from home on a music scholarship, living in a big city for the first time, one of her fellow university students began to follow her, his obsession ultimately escalating into a plot for her murder.

In radiant prose that ranges seamlessly from pure lyricism to harrowing realism, Trenka recounts repeated close encounters with her stalker and the years of repressed questions that her ordeal awakened. Determined not to be defined by her stalker's twisted assessment of her worth, she struck out in search of her own identity - free of western stereotypes of geishas and good girls. Doing so, however, meant confronting her American family and fighting the bureaucracy at the agency that had arranged for her adoption.

Jane Jeong Trenka dares to ask fundamental questions about the nature of family and identity. Are we who we decide to be, or who other people would make us? What is this bond more powerful than words, this unspoken language of blood? To find out, Trenka must reacquaint herself with her mother and sisters in Seoul and devise a way to blend two distinct cultures into one she seared into the memory by indelible images and unforgettable prose. This is a poetic tour-de-force by an essential new voice in Asian American literature.
Publisher: St. Paul, MN :, Borealis Books,, [2003]
Copyright Date: ©2003
ISBN: 9780873514668
Branch Call Number: ANF 977.600495 TRE
Characteristics: 226 pages ; 23 cm

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DorisWaggoner
Mar 06, 2019

In the early 1960s, in rural Minnesota, a devout Missouri Synod Lutheran couple, feeling incomplete because they cannot have children, is approached by their pastor about adopting two biological sisters. The girls are from Korea, and grow up knowing no other Asian faces at all. The subject is not discussable in their home, school, or church. The author is the younger, an infant when the two join the family, so remembers nothing. The older purposely suppresses her memories. Both try to be perfect. This works for many years, as they are both bright, though they're stared at. Jane, the author, finds she can't please her mother, so it's no surprise that she goes away to college. There she finds herself stalked by a fellow student who finds her exotic. This incident is somewhat glossed over, but he ends up in prison. She ends up with a sequence of men who aren't good for her, but continues to long for her birth mother and sisters. The book picks up when she finds them, and makes several trips to Korea to meet them. None of them really learn the others' language, but they learn other ways of communicating and loving each other.

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