The Korean Word for Butterfly by Jamie Zerndt – Book Review

by Jamie Zerndt
Genres: Literary Fiction
Format: Kindle, Paperback

Alt="the korean word for butterfly"The Korean Word for Butterfly by Jamie Zerndt


“Americans. They think everybody is snowflake. Only one snowflake. Only one you. But in Korea we think like snowball. Everybody snowball.” Yun-ji packed an imaginary snowball in her hands, then lifted it, palms up, as if offering Billie a present. “You see? Snowball.”
Both of them looked at Yun-ji’s hands holding nothing.

“Snowball,” Yun-ji repeated, then looked at Billie, at her unhappy mouth, at her face that looked like it had been bleached, and she pictured that soldier sitting in the tank, listening to head phones, maybe reading a Rolling Stone magazine, then the call coming in over the radio, the hurried attempts to think of an excuse, some reason why he didn’t see two fourteen-year-old girls walking down a deserted country road in South Korea.

“Never mind,” Yun-ji said and dropped her hands. 

When she looked down at her shoes, she half-expected to see a puddle.

But there was nothing.

Just the flickering of the memorial candles.
Set against the backdrop of the 2002 World Cup and rising anti-American sentiment due to a deadly accident involving two young Korean girls and a U.S. tank, The Korean Word For Butterfly is told from three alternating points-of-view:

Billie, the American looking for adventure with her boyfriend who soon finds herself questioning her decision to travel so far from the comforts of her old life;

Moon, the ex K-pop band manager struggling to maintain his sobriety in hopes of getting his family back;

And Yun-ji , a secretary whose new feelings of resentment toward Americans may lead her to do something she never would have imagined possible.

The Korean Word For Butterfly is a story about the choices we make and why we make them.

It is a story, ultimately, about the power of love and redemption.


Set in South Korea during the time of the 2002 World Cup comes the compelling and engaging story The Korean Word for Butterfly. In this irresistible tale, we have three interesting main characters whose lives intersect in an exciting story told in alternating viewpoints.

First, we have “Billie,” a young American girl and high school graduate, who has come to Korea to teach English and have an adventure. Then, we have “Moon,” a recovering alcoholic who has lost his family due to his drunken escapades. And, finally, there is “Yun-ji,” a young Korean woman and secretary at the school who has little regard for Americans. Their lives intertwine and things become complicated as their journey begins.

The Korean Word for Butterfly not only has a beautiful cover picture but a beautiful narrative as well. It is crisp and original, filled with prose and aesthetic beauty. Author Jamie Zerndt brings readers an insightful look at Korean myths and traditions as he weaves the storyline together. This is a rich and detailed novel that will have readers feeling many emotions, both good and woeful. But, all of them adding enjoyment to the story.

Readers will be turning the pages quickly as they are absorbed in the plot and the abundant history and traditions of the Korean culture. The storyline is well constructed with a satisfying ending. Readers will definitely be wanting more from this author as they read on and come to the emotionally-charged conclusion.

This is a character-driven novel. Jamie Zerndt defines each one clearly and deliberately. They are well developed and fully fleshed out. It’s difficult to choose a favorite character as they are all likable and completely relatable. The lovely descriptive writing also puts readers on the scene.

This is a one of a kind story that readers will sing out praises for. It is unique with a quality of writing that we don’t see much in today’s writings. It is filled with conflict yet written in a harmonious tone. It is inspirational, compelling, and thought provoking.

If you are a reader that loves literary fiction about Americans living abroad, then The Korean Word for Butterfly is the book for you. Jamie Zerndt is an excellent writer and should be noted as such. This book is highly recommended by Chick Lit Cafe to all discerning, avid readers and those that want to escape into a world filled with beauty and emotion. The title is aptly named and the meaning is within the book. You won’t want to miss this one.

Purchase The Korean Word for Butterfly by Jamie Zerndt @Amazon Today

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