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Mrs. Kim has been a mom to Henry since his mother died when he was five. Henry calls her "Kimy, his buddy." After Henry's mother's death, she not only takes care of Henry, but his father as well. Later, when Henry loses his feet, she's the one to pull him out of his state of self-pity, back to life. And when Clare loses herself in her grief after Henry's death, Mrs. Kim looks after Alba. She always seems to be the shining, loving light in dark. Although she lost her own daughter to leukemia and later her husband, she never complains. Her enormous strength seems to lie in her belief that life has to be lived the way it is, and that all you can do is make the best of it. This makes her, in many ways, a symbol for one of the book's central messages: seize the day!