October Discussion: The Island of Sea Women

This month, your Time to Read team is reading The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See. This is a fascinating story about Young-sook and Mi-ja, girls from different backgrounds who bond over their shared love of the sea. Working in their village’s all-female diving collective on the Korean island of Jeju , the two friends come of age in a community where gender roles are anything but typical.

1. In The Island of Sea Women, there’s an expectation that a daughter should follow in her mother’s footsteps. How common is it today for daughters to follow in their mothers’ footsteps—personally or professionally.

2. Young-sook’s mother-in-law, Do-Saeng, says “There’s modern, and then there’s tradition.” Do you think it’s possible to modernize without sacrificing important traditional values?

3. Lisa See’s story stresses forgiveness. Do you think forgiveness is important and necessary on both personal and societal levels? What do you think is forgivable and what not?

4. The aphorism “Deep roots remain tangled underground,” is used to describe Young-sook’s and Mi-ja’s friendship. Do you think it’s true that we cannot remove ourselves from the connections of our pasts?

5. The book focuses on a matrifocal society, where the women/mothers are the head of the household, who go to work, to sea, and the men who stay with the children and look after the home, or in some cases leave for the mainland to do factory work. Does this type of society appeal to you? Why?

We love hearing from our listeners, let us know your thoughts about the book! You can leave your comments here or on social media or by by emailing us at wpl-podcast@winnipeg.ca

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