I kind of want to give this more than 3 stars, as I liked it in a number of different ways.
I liked it because it takes place in Queens. Jane rides the purple-circle labeled number 7 train, like I did. She gazes out on the Manhattan skyline and is sure that her adult self will be there, no longer B&T (bridge-and-tunnel). She walks the Flushing sidewalks and is in and out of the stores with their signs and awnings in Korean, not English, despite being in NYC in the 1990s and early 2000s. She even helps a young friend prep for the Hunter High School entrance exam. (I still remember the topic for the exam essay I wrote back in 1979.) It’s a familiar and nostalgic setting for me, and I enjoyed the visit.
I also liked Re Jane because it takes place in Korea, a country I have never seen and know little about. Park gives the reader a picture of what it might be like to be a young professional person in modern Seoul, dining out, going to clubs, and learning to conform to unfamiliar social expectations.
Re Jane is also about intergenerational relationships, culture shifts, expatriate living, learning to become one’s self and the fact that no society remains the same – You can go back home but it won’t be as you left it. All cultures morph and grow, and some of us will live forever in the gaps between what was and what is. If you are lucky, you will have a friend like Nina, who will grow and change and straddle multiple worlds alongside you.