Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Enter this sweeping multi-generational saga. For the first half of the book, I really did feel swept off my feet. For the second half however, I felt like the pacing was a little bit off. Whenever I thought of this book, I pictured a quilt, because of the way the author was able to do this with her writing style.
This story follows a Korean family who immigrate to Japan, and start out living in poverty. There are traditional arranged marriages, shameful pregnancy, and stories of forbidden and lost love embedded in this tale. We start this story out with Hoonie, an old child who was born with deformities. His parents being thankful that any marriage offer would come to them, so they accept. All during this time in 1910 Japan annexes itself from Korea, so times get even more financially tough.'
After having three newborn's that died, Hoonie becomes the proud father of our main character, Sunja. She is adored and praised on by her father, unusual in this specific culture. When she reaches the age of ten, her father suddenly and she is left to help around the inn with her single mother. When she's still under the age of eighteen, a foreign man notices her in the food market. From there she has a forbidden love affair that ends up in an unwanted pregnancy. And for reasons that are spoilery, she obviously can't be with the father. Isak Baek, a sickly minister that has been living in their inn offers to marry Sunja. Her mother must let her daughter go to Japan, knowing that this is the best thing for her reputation.
Filled with tragic dissolvement of family, motherly love and sacrifice, where education can get you. This story is told through the historical period of the discrimination, annexation from Japan, and the Great Depression that was going on worldwide through the lens of this family's story.
The first half kept me engaged and interested, but I felt like something was off about the pacing in the second half. Future generations are rushed and they story isn't given the full consideration that I feel like the author focused on in the first half. I would have liked for this book to dive into a little bit of the modern members of the families lives, as I feel that I could relate to that the most within the time period.
Also, my mistake in the timing that I personally read this book was that I started it on a readathon. Which was obviously the wrong choice, since this book is around 500 pages, a real doorstopper. So I found myself skimming, speed-reading, and not really soaking in the content the way that I wanted to because of my hastiness. That's why I feel like couldn't enjoy the reading experience to the fullest.
One word that I could use to describe this book would probably be eye-opening. I wasn't aware of the history that was going on in this time period in that part of the world, and I was definitely glad that I got to experience this insightful story.
**Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me a book in exchange for my honest review.**
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