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In the Shadow of the Sun

Just published!

North Korea is known as the most repressive country on Earth, with a dictatorial leader, a starving population, and harsh punishment for rebellion.

Not the best place for a family vacation.

Yet that's exactly where Mia Andrews finds herself, on a tour with her aid-worker father and fractious older brother, Simon. Mia was adopted from South Korea as a baby, and the trip raises tough questions about where she really belongs. Then her dad is arrested for spying, just as forbidden photographs of North Korean slave-labor camps fall into Mia's hands. The only way to save Dad: get the pictures out of the country. Thus Mia and Simon set off on a harrowing journey to the border, without food, money, or shelter, in a land where anyone who sees them might turn them in, and getting caught could mean prison -- or worse.

An exciting adventure that offers a rare glimpse into a compelling, complicated nation, In the Shadow of the Sun is an unforgettable novel of courage and survival.

"The action is punctuated by short profiles of individual (fictional) North Koreans, tantalizingly pulling back the veil of secrecy, but readers are soon plunged back into a thrilling and immersive experience reminiscent of the best spy and wilderness adventure stories. Character development is not sacrificed to action, as the siblings mature in their relationship, gaining insight into family and racial dynamics, culture, and identity. ...

A riveting work that will appeal to a wide range of readers."

Kirkus Reviews

"In her first novel, picture book author O’Brien (I’m New Here) presents a nuanced portrayal of North Korea; the government is restrictive and the police force divided, but the citizens’ complex perspectives and attitudes are revealed in thoughtful, interspersed dispatches. Mia’s reflections about being Korean in Connecticut versus in Korea are powerful, as is her assertion that she is “growing into both her names.”

Publishers Weekly

“This fast-paced and tense survivalist thriller, made all the more compelling for its fascinating setting, should find broad appeal.”

Booklist

"The author, who grew up in South Korea, has done thorough homework—the story feels authentic and the details ring with the truth of cultural accuracy and historical veracity...

A terrific book about how a girl’s daunting journey enriches her inner journey, and a story and setting that expands one’s understanding of this country that is often in the news, and about which little is known."

Korean American Readings

A Junior Library Guild Fall 2017 Selection