Pub Date: September 19, 2023

Author: Frances Park

The Summer My Sister Was Cleopatra Moon is an emotionally charged, cautionary tale about alienation and the spiritual deformity that ensues when it feels like the whole world hates you. In the summer of ’76, with no other Koreans in Glover, Virginia, fourteen-year-old Marcy Moon idolizes her irreverent big sister Cleo, who has her pick of lovers and uses her sexuality to prevail against racism. In Marcy’s eyes, every guy would cut off his ponytail, burn his guitar and shoot old ladies if you told him to. Her dream, a dangerous one, is to be like Cleo. Central to the story is the girls’ inability to bond with their mom, who left her heart behind in North Korea and finds it difficult to love her daughters the way a mother should. Most heartbreaking is the sisters’ love for their dad, a complicated and worldly man who wants to be the best father and provider, but, in the end, cannot escape his demons.

“…Frances Park pulls off an improbability here: the ability to make you laugh one minute, cry the next, maintaining a dizzying highwire balancing act as Marcy shares her own American tale, one rich in both humor and heartbreak.” —Scott Saalman, columnist, author of Vietnam War Love Story: The Love Letters of Bill and Nancy Young (1967)

“In her coming-of-age novel about two sisters, every page of which bears the imprint of her emotional and spiritual investment, Frances Park shows what a woman writer can achieve with such rich material at hand.” —The Strait Times, Singapore

“… bold, powerful comedy… The parents in particular are sketched with an unflinching eye for pathos that can be fairly heartbreaking… Frances Park’s writing on adolescence is readable, unsentimental and… entrancing.” —The London Times

“This is a delicate, humane, funny novel… that stands within the best tradition of imaginative writing.”—The Taipei Times

“Park’s poignant novel… comes to us as a cautionary tale about the perils of the American dream.” —The Korea Times

“A fresh take … by a writer from a generation whose voice has seldom been heard.” —Kirkus Reviews (of Frances Park’s memoir writing)