Min Kym was a child prodigy on the violin. Growing up, her life was defined by the instrument as she went to prestigious music schools, was tutored by well-known musicians and travelled all over to play at world-famous venues.
At the age of 21, she discovered and bought her perfect violin - a 1696 Stradivarius. When she was 31, it was stolen from a café at Euston Station. Although it was retrieved three years later, she was forced to sell it to an investor for financial reasons.
I was enthralled by Kym’s account of how the violin ‘was her’, and her ascent to the peak of her career as a solo violinist. Her love of music shows on every page. Although losing her violin understandably sent Kym into a devastating depression, there is a message of hope and new understandings of herself as she reflects on her experiences and begins to piece her life back together.
Although Kym always loved music and playing the violin, she also provides a fascinating insight into the downsides of showing such talent at a young age. Despite the Korean tradition of the father’s needs coming first, Kym’s family moved from London to ensure she got the best training for her future career, placing a lot of pressure on her to succeed. She experienced tensions between her cultural background and upbringing in Britain, as well as her identities as a top-flight violinist and a teenager. She also became anorexic and experienced some difficult, and even toxic relationships with violin teachers and romantic partners.
Gone: a girl, a violin, a life unstrung is a well-rounded autobiography of love and loss, endings and beginnings, sadness and hope.