Cleo was everything her little sister Marcy wanted to be: beautiful, alluring, and fiercely independent. But when Cleo comes home from college, Marcy, an adolescent on the brink of becoming a young woman, realizes that her older sister is no longer the person she once idolized. Their summer together is a traumatic one of emerging sexuality and then a sudden death. When Cleo returns to school, Marcy feels abandoned, left with her distant mother who has never fully assimilated to America.
Years later the sisters are reunited when Cleo’s husband dies in a freak accident. Marcy rushes to support Cleo, now a successful businesswoman, and help with her children. But being with her sister forces Marcy to confront the suspicions of her youth, including her fear that Cleo is still the destructive person she remembers.
Funny and extremely moving, When My Sister Was Cleopatra Moonconveys the struggles of growing up and maintaining familial bonds amid the cultural divides that can develop in first generation American families.
“While bookshelves tremble under the weight of coming-of-age novels, there’s nothing overworked about Cleopatra Moon… This is a raw story of racism and the girls’ struggle to find out who they are. Koreans, Americans, Korean-Americans or maybe something else – like sisters.” USA TODAY
“… written with gusto… and will likely find a pleasant place in summer beach bags.” WASHINGTON POST BOOK WORLD
“We all live in exile – exile from a past when things were better and happier… When My Sister Was Cleopatra Moon describes that sense of loss powerfully…” THE TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
“When My Sister Was Cleopatra Moon comes to us as a cautionary tale about the perils of the American dream.” THE KOREA TIMES, HANKOOK ILBO
“The sections of their childhood are packed with bold, powerful comedy… 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. Her central character… refuses to be led astray by fashion or money or a career, and instead looks at what the poet Wordsworth called ‘the human heart by which we live’.” THE TAIPEI TIMES
The novel was the focus of a segment for “Good Morning America”, April 4, 2000
Movie option rights sold
A Choice of the Quality Paperback Book Club
A Choice of the Britain Book of the Month Club
Published in the United Kingdom by Chatto & Windus/Random House UK, May 2000
Published in Germany by Diana Verlag/Heyne, September 2000.