Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa

Ehwa is a young girl growing up in a Korean village.  She lives with her mother, who was widowed not long after Ehwa was born.  Through these two women, we see different stages of love, as Ehwa has her first crushes and her mother meets a traveling stranger.

This was beautiful.  Everything about it was beautiful.  The delicate black and white drawings, the language, Ehwa's mother's hesitant relationship and Ehwa's slow and confused understanding of love.  Ehwa often becomes confused by her mother's flowery explanations of love, sex, and the difference between boys and girls.  Ehwa's friend, the bold and rough Bongsoon, tells Ehwa all sorts of things she hears from her sister, but even these stories are wrapped in metaphors.

In The Color of Water, Ehwa has several crushes.  First on a young monk, and then on a wealthy boy who is home from school.  She only speaks to these boys a few times, but that is enough for her to continually think of them and wonder about what she is feeling. 

Ehwa's mother, as a widow, puts up with the crude jokes from the village men.  It isn't until a traveling artist passes through town does she begin to love for the first time since Ehwa's father.

This is a trilogy, and the follow installments, The Color of Water and The Color of Heaven, are equally lovely.  In them, we see Ehwa grow into a young woman and truly fall in love and learn more about herself and her body.  Her mother, meanwhile, continues her deepening relationship with the picture man.

I really loved these, and would definitely recommend them for high school.


  1. I couldn't agree with you more, all three of these graphic novels are wonderful choices for a library. :) "The Color of Earth" was a delight to read as were "The Color of Water" and "The Color of Heaven." Thank you for such an accurate and wonderful review. Happy reading!

  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed them too!


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