When a widowed, aging mother allows Green, her thirty-something daughter, to move into her apartment, all she wants for her is a stable and quiet existence like her own. But when Green turns up with her long-term girlfriend in tow, her mother is enraged and unwilling to welcome their relationship into her home.
... a clear-eyed character study of the fraught relations among biological and found families alike ... Kim captures the raw details of cleaning the bodies of dementia patients as well as the immovable 'dark silence' that 'flows' between mothers and daughters when communication changes nothing. This unflinching perspective illuminates the extraordinary power of tenderness in such a context. Kim's keen attention to character reveals the nuances of her narrator's pragmatic brand of compassion. In this way, Concerning My Daughter manages to capture a societal need for both accepting collective complicity and practicing enduring empathy.
Kim plays close attention to the precariousness — bodily, financial, social — of not only the mother, but also her daughter and Jen ... This is an admirably nuanced portrait of prejudice ... Jamie Chang’s precise, pared-back translation conveys the mother’s internal struggle between her biases and her love for her daughter in a careful, balanced way, so that the reader is able to understand her position without being asked to endorse it ... Wisely, Kim chooses to report rather than directly quote the mother’s worst homophobic tirade, against Lane ... This is not a redemption story, nor does it aspire to be ... There is the occasional tendency to lay on too thickly the resonances between the mother’s relationships with Jen and with her daughter ... But it’s generally a tightly conceived and executed work, and one that boldly takes on the daunting task of humanizing someone whose prejudice has made her cruel.
... moving ... The narrator is a silent force. Internally, she struggles with the way that she loves her daughter but does not understand her. In stark yet restrained prose, she circles around the fact that her daughter is gay ... This deep dive into her thoughts and emotions is stifling. Parallel situations unfold that force the narrator to reckon with a culture of silence and deliberate ignorance and to recognize that neither is conducive to a caring, respectful society ... a poignant novel that pits established behaviors against potentially better ways of thinking.