Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant–and that her lover is married–she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son’s powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.
I loved this book, so much. Everything about it was amazing, and I highly recommend reading it if you haven’t already.
What I loved
The writing was so simple and beautiful, yet so effective. I loved how scenes were set up. The dialogue was so good and realistic. Each character had distinct phrases without being cheesy. It was amazing.
Y’all, the different relationships in this book were so good. The woman-woman relationships were all so good and supportive. Like, some of the best I’ve ever read. The parent-child relationships were amazing. The sibling-relationships were amazing. They were so good.
I also loved how the women were portrayed. They were all so strong and persistent. They were honestly the backbone of the families and they worked so hard. I loved how hardworking they were and their beliefs and morals. I feel like women are never portrayed well. Like, even when they’re good characters and not sexist or anything, there’s still usually something off. But they were so wonderful. Sunja has remained one of my favourite characters, and probably will for a long time.
The story and plot was so amazing too. It was so realistic, and wonderful to follow. It was so sad, but I really appreciated it, if that makes sense? There’s a lot of heartwarming things that happen, too, and I think the balance of sad and hopeful is so hard to get, but Lee managed to do it so well. I also loved how, with one of the generations, it seemed like one character was destined to succeed and one was destined to be a failure, and it ended up the other way. It was really interesting, and again, I appreciated it.
I only have two small issues:
- There were a couple scenes that were unnecessary. Like, I thought they’d maybe become necessary later on, but there were at least two that didn’t, and just added to the length of the book. They weren’t bad scenes, and I appreciated them, but after I finished the book, I was like “huh, those never meant anything.”
- *contains very minor spoilers* I wish we got a little more resolution regarding Hansu and Noa’s family. Again, one of the best parts of this book was how realistic it was, including the endings of a bunch of relationships. But I wish we got a little more resolution about Hansu and what happened to him. And I wish we knew what happened with Noa’s family. I feel like they were just kind of swept away, which again was realistic, but I wanted some closure. *minor spoilers end*
So overall, I adored this book. The lack of closure and unnecessary scenes were the only bad things I had to say about. But I’ve recommended this book to everyone and definitely think everyone should read it.