This Burns My Heart by Samuel Park - 310 pages
Chamara is difficult to translate from Korean to English: To stand it, to bear it, to grit your teeth and not cry out? To hold on, to wait until the worst is over? Such is the burden Samuel Park’s audacious, beautiful, and strong heroine, Soo-Ja Choi, faces in This Burns My Heart, an epic love story set in the intriguing landscape of postwar South Korea. On the eve of marriage to her weak, timid fiancÉ, Soo-Ja falls in love with a young medical student. But out of duty to her family and her culture she turns him away, choosing instead a world that leaves her trapped by suffocating customs.
In a country torn between past and present, Soo-Ja struggles to find happiness in a loveless marriage and to carve out a successful future for her only daughter. Forced by tradition to move in with her in-laws, she must navigate the dangers of a cruel household and pay the price of choosing the wrong husband. Meanwhile, the man she truly loves remains a lurking shadow in her life, reminding her constantly of the love she could have had.
Will Soo-Ja find a way to reunite with her one true love or be forced to live out her days wondering “what if ” and begin to fully understand the meaning of chamara?
My Review: 4 stars
This title intrigued me as I immediately imagined a broken heart (not heartburn, LOL). I fell for the main character whose impetuous actions as a young, determined 17 year old were of course the impetus for the story to unfold. Reminding me of myself and my own daughter at 17 when ‘we knew everything’ as well as the angst involved in making decisions our parents ‘just didn’t understand’. In reality though, Soo-Ja's story of heartbreak, love, hard-work, respect for those who don't deserve it, family love and missed chances has been told hundreds of times, however what made this story unique was the setting in post-war South Korea.
Quotes I liked:
- “Use me up. Use me up to the bone. Take all my strength, my energy my will. When you let me be your father and let me worry about you, care for you, and even suffer for you, you’re not doing a favor to yourself, you’re doing a favor to me. When you need me, I am alive.”
- “Why are we asked to make the most important decisions of our lives when we are so young, and so prone to mistakes? Happiness came that day - she knew nothing-and asked her to say yes and she did not.
- “In reality, those who do wrong to us never think about us as much as we think about them, and that is the ultimate irony: their deeds live inside us, festering, while they live out in the world, plucking peaches off trees, biting juicily into them, their minds on things lovely and sweet.”
- “The prisoner is always thinking about escape, but she wondered what the jailer always thought about.”
Tags: Historical Fiction, 2012, Korea
Labels: 2012, Historical Fiction, Korea