Book Reviews

Book Review: Gone by Min Kym


This book was reviewed via Netgalley


Kym’s Gone is a story of love, loss, and rebirth. It is the story of a young violin prodigy, of the finding, and losing of one’s other half, and of recovery from traumatic loss. At a very young age Min-jin, a Korean transplant to England, is introduced to an instrument that would become a lifelong passion. In short order it became apparent that Min was a prodigy with this most beautiful of instruments. As she grows up, moving from teacher and instructor as need dictated, Min acquired and passed along several violins until the day she met a certain beautiful, bruised Stradivarius. It was love at first sight. For ten years, Kym’s Strad was friend, child, lover, constant companion.


Then came a fateful day, when forced to travel while sick, that Min’s precious partner is plucked away by pernicious purloiners unaware of the true value of their plunder. It was a devastating loss that plunged Min into dangerous depression. More than the loss of a valuable violin, it was the loss of a vital and integral part of who Min was.


More than a mere object, the violin is an extension of the violinist. It is a symbiotic partnership between soulmates. It would be several years before Min’s Strad is recovered. Even then, it is no longer hers, but property of the insurance company. In the end, Min manages to form a partnership with a new violin, another in need of special love.


This memoir drew me in, entrancing, enthralling. It is a beautifully poetic story, of a child prodigy who becomes a world-class violinist. I felt what Min felt, through all her ups and downs. The fierce determination, the frustration with pushy instructors, and the love of encouraging mentors. The joy of playing, and the bliss of perfect partnership. The pit of the stomach sickness when the Strad is stolen. The crushing despair of loss.


I know what it’s like to lose something of priceless value to me. I am a reader, an author, and an archaeologist. Above all else, I value my eyesight. At age 20, I lost an eye, and gained decreased vision in the other one. For a time, there was concern I would lose the remaining eye. I didn’t, in the end, but the thought was devastating. Lifestyle changes were necessary, but I can still read and write. My loves are intact.


I also play the violin and cello. My instruments are ‘common’ compared to a Stradivarius, yet they are mine. We have a rapport. I understand when Min says her violins have life, have spirit. No-one else is allowed to play, or touch, Ishi or Brusko. I would be devastated by their loss. Min didn’t lose an object, but a family member. Not theft, but kidnapping. I’m thankful the story had a somewhat good ending. I did feel angry at reading Matt’s controlling ways, which played a large part in the Strad’s loss, and the cold indifference of the company that helps Min buy back the Strad with the stipulation that she must allow them to sell it. That seemed beyond cruel to me.


????? Highly recommended, especially for those who love the violin (and other music lovers)

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