Historical fiction about Korean picture brides in Hawaii (early 20th century)

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Thanks to Forge Books and Bookish First for the arc - an English translation of the book first published in 2020 in Korea.

This book was a 3.75 for me and I'm rounding up to 4*. I enjoy historical fiction as a way to learn about a specific time period and what life was like then for a group of people. While I knew about picture brides and Asian immigration to farms and plantations in the early 1900s, The Picture Bride added some details of everyday life that you don't necessarily find in textbooks.

In the book, we follow the story of 3 Korean picture brides as they travel from their rural village homes in Korea to Hawaii where they marry men who work the sugarcane plantations. The story itself and all the characters are a bit simplistic and two-dimensional. This could be a middle school book to supplement a history unit about immigration, although there might be stronger accounts about life on the plantations for Asian immigrants in this era. Based on the translator's note at the end, I wonder if some of the power of the story was lost as a result of flattening out/adjusting the language to appeal to a greater number of English-speaking people.

I was interested to see much greater sophistication in the last part of the book when the perspective shifts from Willow, one of the picture brides, to Pearl, her Hawaii-born daughter. The differences in their characters, personalities and mindset show how their upbringing and family life shaped who they are. I can't help but wonder if the story would've been stronger if we started with Pearl to better understand (and appreciate?) Willow.

In any case, I'm glad to see more books about topics that aren't addressed as often in the realm of historical fiction.