One Maryland One Book, Maryland’s statewide reading project, is underway throughout Southern Maryland now through October. The initiative is designed to encourage everyone in the state to read and then discuss one book chosen by the educational nonprofit Maryland Humanities. This year’s selection, “The Island of Sea Women” by Lisa See, dovetails with Gov. Larry Hogan’s designation of 2020 as The Year of the Woman in Maryland.
The goal of One Maryland One Book is to bring together diverse people in communities across the state through the shared experience of reading the same book and participating in book-centered discussions and other related programs.
“The Island of Sea Women” chronicles the lives and friendship between Young-sook and Mi-ja, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju. They become the closest of friends yet their differences are impossible to ignore: Young-sook was born into a long line of haenyeo and will inherit her mother’s position of leading the divers; whereas Mi-ja is the daughter of a Japanese collaborator and will forever carry that mark. From the Japanese occupation of the 1930s and 1940s, World War II, to the Korean War, events will push their seemingly unbreakable bond to its breaking point. This beautifully written and thoughtful novel shines a light on the remarkable haenyeo culture and two women who are a part of it. Readers won’t soon forget the journey of Young-sook and Mi-ja’s friendship.
As part of the One Maryland One Book program, author Lisa See will speak during a regional Southern Maryland virtual public event Tuesday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, though registration is required by visiting online. The program is presented by Calvert Library in partnership with Charles County Public Library, St. Mary’s County Library, Southern Maryland Regional Library Association, Calvert County Commission for Women, Community Mediation Center of Calvert County, Friends of Calvert Library, and Calvert County Public Schools.
See is the author of the New York Times bestsellers “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan,” “The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane,” “Peony in Love,” “Shanghai Girls,” “Dreams of Joy” and “China Dolls,” books that have brilliantly illuminated the strong bonds between women. These books have been celebrated for their authentic, deeply researched, lyrical stories about Chinese characters and cultures.
Born in Paris and raised in Los Angeles, See was also the Publishers Weekly West Coast correspondent for 13 years. As a freelance journalist, her articles have appeared in Vogue, Self, and More, as well as in numerous book reviews around the country.
Copies of “The Island of Sea Women” are available at any public library in Southern Maryland. The book can also be downloaded as a free e-book from the online catalog, COSMOS.
The three Southern Maryland public library systems have developed a variety of programs around the book’s themes, including multiple book discussions throughout the region. All One Maryland One Book events are free. For more information about program opportunities, visit your local library online: Calvert Library; Charles County Public Library; and St. Mary’s County Library. For a list of One Maryland One Book events throughout the entire state, go to the Maryland Humanities website.