A review by s_gaiadam
My Brilliant Life by Kim Ae-ran

emotional hopeful reflective sad slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


This piece of literature is just as delicate as its characters and their story. My Brilliant Life depicts the life of Areum and his stream of consciousness as he faces adolescence while he appears to grow older than his peers, his parents, and his elderly friend. What I appreciate more in this narrative is the depth with which Ae-ran Kim tries to also share the story of the main protagonist's parents as they embark on a new territory as parents at such a young age—the struggle, tension, guilt, anticipation, and the unconditional love and indescribable feeling they felt as they saw the birth of a new life, not to mention all the sacrifices that comes for loving someone. 

I find the story, especially the first parts of the novel, very endearing. As the story flows, we get to witness a lot more of Areum's train of thought and his love for books as his companion. Despite the knowledge he gains from books, the people around him, and his surroundings, we still see him face some hurdles in forming genuine relationships. Truly, this portrayal of different dynamics from the perspective of a boy whose mind is just as vibrant and active as his age is supposed to be is juxtaposed with his frail body. 

Overall, this novel presents a great balance of drama, comedy, and the mundane. It has its lessons, and as for me, I'd say it hit me in the right spot enough to feel a connection among them, remember and honor what I had missed and appreciate what I have. 

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