Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Rating: 4 stars

It is so easy to get lost in this book, swept up in the everyday details of characters’ lives. The book starts with Sunja, a treasured daughter of a widowed boardinghouse keeper who becomes pregnant with a married man’s child. Unwilling to become his mistress, she marries a minister who takes her to Japan and raises the child as his own. The story then follows Sunja, and later her two sons, as they survive in Japan despite a culture of prejudice against Koreans.

I was also struck by the line Sunja’s mother repeats: “A woman’s lot is to suffer.” It seemed that no matter how hard Sunja tried to make up for her mistakes, she was never allowed to forget them. Other women and mothers in this book faced the same problem as well, and it is heartbreaking to read some of the outcomes that they take blame and responsibility for.


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