Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Age range: Adult | Hardcover: 496 pages | Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (February 7, 2017)
About the Book
A new tour de force from the bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires, for readers of A Fine Balance and Cutting for Stone.
Profoundly moving and gracefully told, PACHINKO follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them. Betrayed by her wealthy lover, Sunja finds unexpected salvation when a young tubercular minister offers to marry her and bring her to Japan to start a new life.
So begins a sweeping saga of exceptional people in exile from a homeland they never knew and caught in the indifferent arc of history. In Japan, Sunja’s family members endure harsh discrimination, catastrophes, and poverty, yet they also encounter great joy as they pursue their passions and rise to meet the challenges this new home presents. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, they are bound together by deep roots as their family faces enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.
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Why You’ll Love Pachinko
Where to start with this book? There are so many feels and so many thinks inside of me after reading this. It’s a moving story and one of those books that you need to bask in for days after finishing it. Even though it’s nearly 500 pages long, I loved every page and looked for any excuse to spend a few minutes with it.
The story mostly revolves around Sunja, a Korean woman who gets pregnant out of wedlock as a teenager and emigrates to Japan with the man that saves her from ruin. It’s a realistic portrayal of the gamble of life with its triumphs and sorrows, how our decisions change our fate and how our mistakes have the power to give us joy.
As I read, I became obsessed with these characters. They felt so REAL. Like they could jump out of the book and be living people who make mistakes, experience triumph, and deal with obstacles all along the way. I genuinely cared about them, thought about them, and worried about them.
I find it interesting how the characters viewed themselves and each other. The author did a tremendous job of showing us the characters’ thoughts and feelings through their dialogue and actions. I love the omniscient point of view because it gives insight into how the society worked, how each person related to their situation, and it helped tell the story in a quiet way that wouldn’t have been possible with a limited point of view.
One of the things that I like is the slow reveal of Hansu’s true character. While he has an undercurrent of danger right at the beginning, you learn more about him as the story goes on. I love Sunja’s stubborn strength, Isak’s kindness, and Mozasu’s passion.
My one and only complaint with the story is some of the content. There is a lot of strong language and sex, some of which felt irrelevant to the story line. However, this story is a fascinating look inside Japan and it’s culture. If you can ignore some of the stronger content, this is a beautiful book.
Content: Language (including f-bombs) and sex.
Source: The publisher sent me a copy of this book.
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