Unlike James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces, the author clearly marks this as a work of fiction. Still, I found myself studying her photograph, wondering just how much of the story she might have actually experienced herself. That’s how real it felt.
In this gritty and sometimes sordid tale about the homeless and the addicted, we follow Joon-Mee through her teen years during the 1980’s in New York City in Miles from Nowhere. Joon, an immigrant from Korea, leaves her troubled home and ends up on the street, falling into prostitution and heroin abuse. All is not dreary, though, as the book has a hopeful ending. In the words of Peter Ho Davies, author of The Welsh Girl, this is a “starkly beautiful book, shot through with grace and lit by an offhand street poetry. Nami Mun takes a cast of junkies and runaways and brings them fiercely and frankly to life. It’s a measure of the artistry of the work that even in their grimmest, darkest moments, rather than being repelled by these characters, we want to stay beside them, as if to care for them, or at least bear witness to their lives. “