The story opens with Ehwa as a very young girl, living with her widowed mother the tavern-keeper. As she grows older and into young womanhood over the course of the book, we see her gradually gain insight and understanding into not only her own growth and maturity, but also into her mother's life as a single female tavern-keeper, subject to all sorts of racy gossip while also leading a relatively lonely existence. At the same time that we get a window into traditional Korean culture of the somewhat recent past, it's the universal elements of the story that will make it really resonate with Western readers—curiosity about one's own growing body, the opposite sex, and the lives of the surrounding adults; loneliness and companionship and love.
I received my copy of this book courtesy of the publisher, First Second. You can find THE COLOR OF EARTH by Kim Dong Hwa and its two sequels at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!