Pachinko by Min Jin Lee is an amazing family saga that takes place through eight decades and four generations. “Pachinko is an epic tale of family, identity, love, death and survival.” I read this book a month ago and still can’t quite put into words what I want to say about it. It is fantastic.
As a young girl, Sunja, finds herself unmarried and pregnant by Koh Hansu, a wealthy man who is already married to another woman. To her rescue, a young preacher (Isak) who feels it is God’s purpose for him, volunteers to marry Sunja and save her from disgrace. Sunja and Isak move to Japan to live with Isak’s brother and wife. They newly married couple soon discover how hard it is to be a Korean living in Japan. Koreans had to raise themselves up by working harder and being better, constantly fighting for survival and being treated unfairly.
Isak and Sunja have two sons: Noa and Mozasu. Mozasu grows up and works at a Pachinko parlor, hence the name of the book. There are parallels between the game of pachinko and the game of life.
Mosasu: “He understood why his customers wanted to play something that looked fixed but which also left room for randomness and hope.” “Life’s going to keep pushing you around, but you have to keep playing.”
The other son, Noa, has always been scholarly and aspires to go to college. Noa struggles with his identity. What he wanted most of all not be seen as Korean, but to be seen as human. “Noa carried the story of his life as a Korean like a dark, heavy rock within him.”
Koh Hansu, Noa’s real father, also resurfaces later in the novel. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who read it.
This book deserves all the literary merit it has received. Highly recommended! A literary gem.
Summer Secrets by Jane Green.
Cat Coombs first introduction to booze was in high school when her addiction to booze and frequent blackouts began by her desire to fit in with the crowd. She has struggled with addiction her whole life, always turning to alcohol for comfort, and ruining so many important relationships along the way.
The “summer secrets” began a long time ago when Cat’s mom, Audrey, spent a summer on Nantucket with her Aunt Judith and buried her own past.
“As the years pass, Cat grows into her forties, a struggling single mother, coping with sobriety.” Cat travels to Nantucket herself in attempts to make amends with some of the people she hurt along the way as a step in her AA program. She has to deal with a lot of painful issues from her past that she has left unresolved. Will her loved ones be able to forgive? Will she finally be able to give up drinking once and for all?
There were several plot twists along the way that kept the book interesting.
This book was full of family drama, with lovely Nantucket as the back drop. This one is perfect for your beach bag.
The Husband Hour by Jamie Brenner was just the light-hearted summery beach read that I needed. I read and loved Jamie Brenner’s book, “The Perfect Summer,” last year and was excited she had released another book.
Lauren Adelman knew from the age of fifteen that Rory Kincaid was the one for her and after high school they were happily married. Then Rory joins the military and never comes back. Lauren is left completely devastated and moves to her family’s beach home in New Jersey where she pretty much lives as a hermit for four years until this summer when her family comes to join her at the beach house.
Lauren’s sister Stephanie, a single mother, is displaced because of a failed relationship. She shows up to stay the summer with her son Ethan in tow. Stephanie and Lauren have had a troubled relationship for years and it becomes obvious that Stephanie is drinking way too much and not being a good mother.
Lauren and Stephanie’s parents (Beth and Harold) are also planning to stay the whole summer in their New Jersey vacation home. The girls don’t know it yet, but their father has decided to sell the family’s beach home because of financial difficulties. This may be the family’s last summer together at this house.
It isn’t long before secrets come out and family drama ensues. Their mother, Beth, is desperately trying to recapture the happy family they once had while her own marriage is disintegrating before her eyes.
Enters Matt Brio, a journalist working on a documentary about Rory Kincaid. As he digs up things from her past, Lauren is finally forced to deal with the pain she has kept buried all these years.
So there are lots of other fun minor characters and of course there is a little romance as well. This is the perfect book for those of you whole enjoy women’s fiction, romance and beachy books.