SOS Book Club Pick: Liar, Dreamer, Thief

Get ready for a gripping page turner. In Liar, Dreamer, Thief, the captivating debut novel by Maria Dong, readers are invited to embark on a journey where a mentally unstable woman uncovers a conspiracy.

About The South Of Seoul Virtual Book Club

Looking for book recommendations? Welcome to the South of Seoul book club. We recommend a book every month. Such recommended books explore topics like 1) South Korean history or culture, 2) the complexity of cross-cultural life, 4) the exploration of life within the diaspora experience, and 5) lenses on Korean culture around the world.

Commitment to Accessibility

South of Seoul volunteers take book accessibility into consideration when recommending titles. We consider:

  • Purchasable in English In Korea: Many translated titles can’t actually be purchased in English in Korea,
  • Audio Version Available: Many people find audiobooks easier to consume.
  • Online Versions.: International residents can’t afford to travel with many books. Also, many books may not be available in digital form from within Korea.

Commitment to Diverse Lived Experiences

South of Seoul volunteers seek to put lived experiences at the forefront of their recommendation choices. When considering authors we look for such things as:

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  • Korean authors writing about their lived experiences in Korea.
  • International residents writing about their lived experiences in South Korea.
  • Ethnic Koreans writing about their lived experience in other countries.

Reading about Korean culture from a variety of perspectives may provide readers with a greater understanding of the country and culture.

Commitment to Supporting Mental Health

South of Seoul also includes book recommendations that support the lives and mental health of our community. This means that books may tackle the issues related to living between cultures. This may include topics such as culture shock, language, relationships, and more.

Book Recommendation By Melissa Edwards-Whittington

August’s South of Seoul Book Club recommendation, Liar, Dreamer, Thief, is brought to you by Melissa Edwards-Whittington of the KimchiRednecks. Edwards-Whittington has lived in Korea since 2017. She and her husband, Chuck, formed the KimchiRednecks YouTube channel to give people living outside of Korea or those coming to Korea, a glimpse of life here in Korea. Together with their three shih tzus, they post weekly videos about places to eat, things to cook, places to visit, or life in general living in Korea.

About The Author Of Liar, Dreamer, Thief

Maria Dong, is a Korean-American author who wrote Liar, Dreamer, Thief. She grew up in a military family which often means a life of moving and starting over. Liar, Dreamer, Thief is her debut novel published January 10, 2023. However, she has written articles, poetry, essays, and short stories for many magazines. Currently, Dong works as a computer programmer. She has previously worked as a property manager, English teacher, and occupational therapist.

Dong considers herself a sci-fi/fantasy writer, however Liar, Dreamer, Thief is more of a thriller with elements of fantasy in the story. The book touches on the topic of mental illness and gives those who may have felt overlooked in literature a voice. Rather than discussing or reviewing mental illness clinically, the main character, Katrina Kim, reveals her inner thoughts exposing her on many levels.

My Experience Reading Liar, Dreamer, Thief

My favorite genre of books to read is probably mystery/thrillers. Therefore, I was excited to delve into this book. Initially, I found the book a bit difficult to settle into the story. The reason for that is because the main character often slips between reality and fantasy and those moments often go into extreme detail. The main character, Katrina Kim, has flunked out of college and has been sent away by her parents. When her life feels overwhelming, she retreats into the world from a book from her childhood, Mi-Hee and the Mirror-Man, her favorite Korean children’s book.

Katrina, determined to create her own life and world, gets an office job and moves in with a stranger who took pity on her after reading her Craigslist ad. Reading this book, you may feel compelled to diagnose the mental disorders of Katrina Kim. However, her life is messy and her struggle is relatable. Her obsession with her coworker, Kurt, borders on the lines of stalking. Therefore after witnessing a car accident involving Kurt, followed by his jump from a bridge, she is pushed to search for clues and investigate. Once you get into the story, you feel like you literally jumped into the rabbit hole with Katrina and must find the truth.

Although I initially found the beginning of the book difficult to read, I was able to determine that my struggle was connecting with her behaviors brought on by the mental illness. However, once I accepted that the main character was struggling with mental illness and we were seeing how it played out in her mind and ultimately her life, I was able to comprehend the story better. Therefore, I recommend sticking with this story if you can make it through the setup where we are learning more of the fictional world from her childhood book.

This book is a real look at the effects of mental illness on a person. Although the writing sometimes feels a bit awkward, it also feels more as if it is truly written from the voice of the main protagonist, Katrina Kim. Ultimately, I enjoyed the wild ride of this book.

More Commentary And Reviews On Liar, Dreamer, Thief

The above review contains my thoughts and opinions. Make sure to read other reviews to have a more rounded perspective toward the book. We all come to each story with our own social/cultural lens. Therefore, others may have perceived this book in a different manner and may help you decide if this is the book for you.

You can purchase Liar, Dreamer, Thief by Maria Dong in English on Amazon.

Find More Book Club Recommendations

Did you like this recommendation? Be sure to explore our other volunteer-recommended books.

South of Seoul Book Club List for 2023