Willow is among the group of Korean women who leave their homeland as picture brides to start new lives in Hawaii. Promised a life of luxury and shown photos of their handsome husbands-to-be by a matchmaker, they soon discover that much of what they were told was false. As Willow tries to adjust to her new life, she realizes that her husband is not the man she thought he was, and she finds herself caught up in the struggle for Korean independence that hits closer to home than she ever imagined.
This novel is set in the early 20th century and delves into the intriguing world of picture brides. The author has included many historical details that lend depth and richness to the setting, and it's clear that extensive research went into crafting this work. It's fascinating to learn about the political and economic struggles faced by Korean immigrants in Hawaii during this time, and the insights into the lives of Korean women are also well-done.
However, while the historical aspects are strong, the characters fall flat. There's a lack of emotional depth to them that makes it difficult to connect with any of them on a personal level. Willow, the protagonist, in particular, is a bland character who simply reacts to the events happening around her without much agency or personality. This lack of emotional connection is disappointing since this is a story that should be intensely personal and moving, given the hardships and struggles faced by the characters.
Overall, while this book is informative and well-researched, it falls short as a novel due to its weak characterization. It's still worth reading for the historical insights, but don't expect to become invested in the characters' journeys.