Book Club: Pachinko

I just finished our book club book for January yesterday afternoon. Did anyone else read it with me? It was a pretty long book with over 600 pages, so you may not be done yet. It was an easy read, but I think it was a little too long.  I was hesitant about this book and went back and forth before I chose it for our book club.  I wasn’t sure how I would like it as I don’t typically read a lot of historical fiction. I had heard good things about it and the book had won several awards so I decided to go for it.  I will tell you that I am glad that I read it.  The book, Pachinko (Amazon) by Min Jin Lee, is set in areas of Korea and Japan. It is a story of a Korean family’s journey through 4 generations whose lives are greatly impacted as they navigate the trials of life in occupied Korea and later as outcasts in Japan. It is a beautiful story of love, discontent, hardships, devotion, and perseverance. The story spans this family’s life for over 79 years.  The story is broken into 3 parts.  Each part tells the story of a different generation of the family. 

The story begins in 1910 with a young man who was born with a cleft palate and a twisted foot. Despite his physical appearance, he was a very bright, hardworking man, but he was considered crippled and unfit for marriage. When he was 27 years old, Japan took control of Korea. The story is a journey that began just after that when the matchmaker visited the young man’s home and was able to find him a simple wife.  Life was very difficult for Koreans at that time and the young couple struggled greatly. The story continues as the young couple has only one surviving child, a girl named Sunja.  Lies and adultery change the course of Sunja’s life forever as she is forced to move to Japan.  Her story is a sad one filled with many trials and tribulations, but her determination and perseverance keep her going strong for many years.   Sunja had 2 sons along the way and the story continues with their lives and the struggles they endured as Koreans in Japan, a country that despised them and treated them like scum.  As Sunja’s sons grew up and the war ended, the family continued to have struggles as they remained outcasts in Japan.  The third part of the book, covered the lives of Sunja’s grandchildren and how the Pachinko business changes the lives of the entire family, some for good and others for bad. 

I really enjoyed this book a lot, and I liked getting to see how the family’s circumstances of their birth and the war affected their lives over generations.  Min Jin Lee’s story was very well developed and and so well written that I could visualize the story as I went along. Sadly, I was really unaware of just how difficult it was for Koreans at that time.  It was very interesting to me.  I did feel that the story was a little too long, though.  There were a couple of times when the story seemed to go astray with add on characters that I felt were not necessary.  Overall, though, I would definitely recommend this book.  It has a little bit of everything: adultery, suicide, organized crime, gambling, illness, drama, and more. If you haven’t read it, I think that you will find it to be a heartwarming story of love and devotion. 

Now, on to the next book! First, let me say that having this book club has forced me to get back in to the habit of reading everyday which is something that I really enjoy doing. I have loved books for as long as I can remember, and I had let life get in the way of doing something that I love. Even if no one chooses to read these books along with me, I will keep this book club going with just me because it gives me great joy.   If you love to read, join me. I would love to talk to you about the books as we read together! Second, I will tell you that I really put a lot of thought into the books that I choose for this book club.  I look through many titles and reviews before I choose the book, and I really do hope that you enjoy them as much as I do. Now, the new book I have chosen for February is Left Neglected  (Amazon) by Lisa Genova. Genova is a neuroscientist as well as an author and often write stories of characters with neurological disorders. I read another book by her several years ago about a woman with early-onset Alzheimer’s called, Still Alice (Amazon).  You may have heard about or read this book as it was turned into a movie staring Julianne Moore, Kristen Stewart, and Alec Baldwin. I really enjoyed that book, so I wanted to read something else by Lisa Genova.  Left Neglected (Amazon) is a New York Times Best Seller and it is an older book. It was published in 2011. It is a story of mother whose life was turned upside down after a car wreck left her with a traumatic brain disorder called “left neglect.” Here is what Apple Books has to say about this book:

“In this powerful and poignant New York Times bestseller, Lisa Genova explores what can happen when we are forced to change our perception of everything around us. Left Neglected is an unforgettable story about finding abundance in the most difficult of circumstances, learning to pay attention to the details, and nourishing what truly matters.”

Come inside this book with me and see where the journey takes us! 

Anchored in a Good Book,

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