Catharine's Reviews > This Burns My Heart

This Burns My Heart by Samuel Park
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Aug 21, 2011

really liked it
Read in August, 2011

I saw this book advertised on GoodReads. It sparked my interest because it was a story about Korea, and I have a Korean daughter-in-law. Samuel Park, the author, did an excellent job. I believe this is his first full-length novel and I was impressed. I especially appreciated that the heroine had a strong moral character. I have understood from my daughter-in-law that the way Park depicted the women in the novel was very accurate. The woman who married the eldest son (at least back in the 1960s, but I think this still goes on today) had to move in with her in-laws and take care of the family and the home. My daughter-in-law says that there are problems today, because now women are working outside of the home, but there are many tasks that men think are too menial and should be performed by women. She also said that if she had married a Korean man and lived with his family (as she lived with ours for a few months), she would have been required to do all the cooking and cleaning for us; this in the year 2010.
The synopsis that Goodreads gives about the story isn't entirely accurate. It indicates that the girl, Soo-Ja, enters an arranged marriage for the sake of her family, but she actually chooses who she's going to marry, then for the sake of her family, goes ahead with the marriage even when given an alternate and probably better, choice.
The only thing I didn't like about this book was the sub-plot. I found it just a little hard to believe that she could fall in love with Yul when she had only been with him twice, and both times, briefly. I'd say more, but then I'd have to add a spoiler notice.
One of the themes of the book is "choices." If Soo-Ja would have chosen differently, how would her life had played out. I loved that she realized that without all her sacrifices and suffering and sorrow, she wouldn't be the strong woman that she was.
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