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Heawon Hake
Daughter of Korean Freud
Heawon Hake, author

Adult; Memoir; (Market)

As a child, Heawon Hake endured hellish conditions. so when she left South Korea as a young adult, the studious woman immersed herself in a long career dedicated to helping people through her empathic psychotherapy. But when she took on a client who had practice dying her entire life, the successful counselor found herself reliving years of abuse. In a heartbreaking and raw account of how her own painful history resurfaced after interactions with an eerily similar patient, Heawon Hake brings to light the frank process that helped her unravel a horrific upbringing. Surprising twist in the end of the book introduces powerful inner child psychotherapy work that heals unspeakable traumas.


Plot/Idea: 10 out of 10
Originality: 9 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 10 out of 10
Overall: 9.50 out of 10


Plot/Idea: This work provides a first-hand recounting of the author's journey of self-discovery. Hake is a natural storyteller, and her narrative unfolds like a novel, evenly paced with subtle clues about what's to come. Gripping and very well done.

Prose: Hake's prose is candid, revealing, and assertive. Occasionally heavy-handed dialogue is a small distraction from otherwise fluid writing.

Originality: Hake's memoir is unique in its storytelling approach. The blend of biographical content with a piercing perspective on trauma, family secrets, and psychological defense mechanisms, is fascinating, as is the unusual perspective on the psychotherapist/patient relationship.

Character/Execution: The author maintains a sharp focus throughout her narrative, whether she is reliving events from her childhood or in her quest as a mental health professional to help her patient Woo-ri and herself. Hake's personal journey remains illuminating and eye-opening.

Date Submitted: October 07, 2023

In this shocking memoir, Hake, a psychotherapist, recounts decades of abuse and neglect, as well as the resilience that allowed her to push on and help others. Working with Woo-ri, a client who endures recurring nightmares that echo Hake’s own, stirs uncomfortable questions for Hake about facing her own past: “What did I need to learn about myself? Could either of us hope for a better future?” From early childhood in South Korea, Hake endured being neglected and unwanted, the younger child who could never live up to the shine on her favored, seemingly sociopathic brother. Hake’s self-important father was a prominent social worker who neglected his own children and seemingly ignored evidence of abuse in his own home, presumably because to acknowledge it would be to lose face. Her mother, meanwhile, seemingly devoted her life to making Hake miserable, sabotaging her first serious relationship and helping to cover up the brother’s constant, violent abuse.

Hake found escape in moving to the United States and embarking a professional career where she could do good, though as an adult, too, she survived unfulfilling and abusive relationships before finally deciding that she’s destined to be romantically alone so that she can better minister to those who are “lonely and broken.” Daughter of Korean Freud finds her facing, with clear eyes and unflinching prose, her own past, demonstrating the possibility of finding a path toward healing and purpose. The book is often harrowing, careening from vivid depictions of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse to powerful accounts of trauma and depression.

A few moments of warmth and connection lighten the darkness, primarily when Hake talks about her golden retrievers and, near the end of the book, the friends she makes in her neighborhood. Most touching, though, is her discovery of meaning in an existence that so often has been painful: the conviction that “I can weave in and out of people’s lives when they most need love.” This book and the example it sets are a potent part of that weaving, though readers sensitive to raw portrayals of abuse and trauma will find many passages a challenge to read.

Takeaway: Harrowing account of abuse, healing, and a life dedicated to helping others heal, too.

Comparable Titles: Catherine Gildiner’s Good Morning, Monster, Michele Harper’s The Beauty in Breaking.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A