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This Burns My Heart

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3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,140 Ratings  ·  213 Reviews
On the eve of her marriage, beautiful and strong-willed Soo-Ja Choi receives a passionate proposal from a young medical student. But caught up in her desire to pursue a career in Seoul, she turns him away, having impetuously chosen another man who she believes will let her fulfill her dreams. Instead, she finds herself tightly bound by tradition and trapped in a suffocatin ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 6th 2012 by Simon & Schuster (first published June 14th 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Thomas
After the war in South Korea ends, Soo-Ja Choi makes the worst mistake of her life: marrying a timid, foolish suitor instead of the caring, earnest medical student she really loves. Though Soo-Ja has a rebellious heart, a dedicated passion for adventure, and a burning desire to pursue diplomacy, all of that subsides when her cruel new family and lukewarm marriage force her into submission. Now Soo-Ja must create a better life for herself and her daughter, lest she make the same mistakes from her ...more
Alex
Aug 29, 2012 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was as the title suggested.

My heart burned from reading its pages, taking in one scorching blow after another.

This book is unbelievably abusive; it does to you what you would never wish upon anyone, not even your worst, and most despicable enemy. It throws in your way heart-felt anguish, frustration, and sorrow. And the author has a serious a case of sadistic tendencies in approaching his readers. He does not spare you a moment of peace. Nor does he allow room for breaths as he holds your hea
...more
Noah
Jul 21, 2011 Noah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
By turns melodramatic and mildly interesting (as most Korean dramas are wont to be), I was hoping the material would rise above the familiar and predictable trappings that the book descended into. Stereotypical elements like the overbearing in-laws and dramatic "twists" fall right into the readers lap. There is no subtlety to the plot. There are, in some passages, elegantly written pieces, but this comes and goes. The clumsy way in which Korean cultural words, foods, and nuances are overly expla ...more
Gayle
Aug 17, 2011 Gayle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was difficult for me to fathom that this book was written by a man. The protagonist is female, but Samuel Park is as successful with this as Wally Lamb, and it works.
A young Korean woman is promised to a teenaged boy and both families approve of the marriage. She falls in love with someone else, but turns her back on love for the sake of the honor of the family
She becomes nothing but a maid to her husband's family. Her entire life is spent in service to her husband, her child, and his fami
...more
Kathryn
Mar 29, 2012 Kathryn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book through a First Reads giveaway, but never received it. I think the premise of the book sounds terrific though and still plan to read it at first opportunity!
Heather Park
Jul 13, 2011 Heather Park rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This Burns My Heart is the story of Soo-Ja, a woman in post-war Korea who is having to forgo the life she desires to fit in with the customs and culture of her country. After a hasty marriage, Soo-Ja is soon trapped in a life of virtual servitude to her in-laws. As her life turns out vastly different to what she had imagined when younger, she continues to run into a man who she had quickly fallen in love with right before she got married. In Yul, she sees a life that could have been, full of lov ...more
Felice
Jul 24, 2011 Felice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This Burns My Heart was written by first time novelist Samuel Park. The story begins just after the end of the Korean War in South Korea. Soo-Ja is the daughter of a factory worker. She knows that tradition dictates that she will be a wife but she is smart and ambitious. Soo-Ja longs to go to school and join the Foreign Service. She is in love with a rebellious, medical student named Yul but is unwilling to go against the wishes of her family or the formalities of her culture and marry for love. ...more
Brandy
Jul 15, 2011 Brandy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
**Spoiler Alert Warning**

I couldn’t put this book down and finished in a day; I kept wanting more and needed to know what happened next. This Burns My Heart features a strong female character that I instantly felt a connection to. No matter what crossed Soo-Ja’s path she was determined to let nothing stop her. After I found out that Min tricked Soo-Ja into marrying him I felt anger and sympathy for him. Such heartache and disappointment for one man to go through at such a young age to help his f
...more
L_manning
Jul 10, 2011 L_manning rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This Burns My Heart is the story of Soo-Ja, a woman in post-war Korea who is having to forgo the life she desires to fit in with the customs and culture of her country. After a hasty marriage, Soo-Ja is soon trapped in a life of virtual servitude to her in-laws. As her life turns out vastly different to what she had imagined when younger, she continues to run into a man who she had quickly fallen in love with right before she got married. In Yul, she sees a life that could have been, full of lov ...more
Catharine
Aug 21, 2011 Catharine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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, ...more
Whitney Jacoby
Mar 03, 2011 Whitney Jacoby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have to say how much I enjoyed This Burns My Heart. There is nothing better than getting swept away and lost in a book. Park's writing is absolutely beautiful and he really brings to life Soo-Ja’s struggle. I found myself almost in tears at Soo-Ja’s hardships, as though they were happening to me. Park also does a wonderful job of bringing to life 1960s Korea—I felt as though I had been transported to another time and place. I read THIS BURNS MY HEART over the course of two days, but between re ...more
Mary (BookHounds)
Soo-Ja comes from a wealthy and traditional family in post-war South Korea and has her heart set on becoming a diplomat. She applies and is accepted by the school, but her father tells her that no self respecting family would ever consent to allow a daughter to move to Seoul and disgrace her family, thus crushing her dreams. She is now 22 and finishing school and is soon named an old maid when a suitor, Min, follows her and quickly proposes. She also meets another man, Yul, a medical student, to ...more
Jaime Boler
Aug 29, 2011 Jaime Boler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It Will Burn Your Heart, Too
By
Jaime

Some of my favorite literary characters are Elinor Dashwood (Sense and Sensibility), Pi Patel (Life of Pi), Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games), and Annie Fang (The Family Fang). Now, I can add another character to the list: Soo-Ja Choi, the heroine of Samuel Park's debut novel This Burns My Heart. Employing such themes as tradition, love, and sacrifice, Park captivated and transported me to a different time and place. I never wanted to return from the vivid
...more
Marjorie Kehe
Jul 22, 2011 Marjorie Kehe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Korean literature is on the rise! The book I really meant to read was "Please Look After Mom" but I picked this one up instead and really enjoyed it. The emotional dilemma at the heart of the novel (what if you really loved one guy but married another?) is familiar but the setting (South Korea) is not. This story, set in the post World War II, makes an interesting contrast to Lisa See's "Dreams of Joy," set in China at the same time. Apparently while the Chinese were starving to death during the ...more
Jen
Feb 05, 2014 Jen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply exceptional. It's on the treasured "books-that-are-as-delightful-as-chocolate" list -- the kind that you savor every bite of and are sad, but entirely fulfilled when it's done. Characters, passages, and the imperfect translations between Korean and English -- the words with meanings and values that are too rich and culturally-situated to be explained by language alone -- will linger in your mind as pleasant after-thoughts. And just like my favorite chocolate, I devoured it in one sitting. ...more
Allison
Jun 20, 2011 Allison rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A lovely book of love, sacrifice, and customs of early marriage in Korea. Still, it was a story I am sure I have read before, and Park was unable to bring a new spark to the ancient tale. In summary: worth reading as a romance novel of sorts or a superficial look at Asian customs and values, but it would be more worthwhile to spend the time on novels by authors such as Amy Tan, Haruki Murakami, or Pearl S. Buck.
Lisa
Feb 01, 2012 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In post-war South Korea, Soo-Ja is an indomitable heroine who is trapped by the choices she has made. Park gives us a glimpse into Korean culture and history, and his flowing writing is lovely. I found myself stopping to notice such phrases as "...the pain inside her was so big, the only way to bear it was to give a slice of it to every single person in the world."
Anitra Donald
Feb 27, 2014 Anitra Donald rated it it was amazing
I bought this book on a whim, then promptly forgot that I had it for over a year. While going through some things, I happened upon it last weekend.
The story of Soo-Ja grabbed me within the first few pages and I could not put it down! As I turned the last few pages, I realized my stomach was rumbling - I had read straight through lunch AND dinner!
Samuel Park gives his readers a clear window into two Koreas - the old, traditional one with alarming attitudes towards women, and a more modern one, wh
...more
Caitlin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erin
Apr 19, 2012 Erin rated it it was amazing
I am really sad this book is over - I couldn't wait to get back to it every day! The story is set in 1960's Korea, but it really is a universal and timeless story. This could have been a plot out of Jane Austen novel or it could very well have happened to me when I was younger: Bad boy courts innocent girl, girl accepts proposal, girl meets good boy, good boy proposes, girl is torn… I won’t ruin it for you by telling you what happens next, but you see where this is going.

The main character, Soo
...more
Ifrah
Sep 01, 2015 Ifrah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This has got to be one of the most angst-ridden books I've ever read in a long time. Now, I love angst, I really do, but this was just so much that every chapter I kept thinking, Now, now it will get better, but it never did. It just got worse and worse until there was literally nothing left of value for Soo-ja to lose.

I really, really wanted to hate this book. I kept wondering, Do people like this really exist? People like Soo-ja's in-laws and Min? Do they really exist? I must be so naive to th
...more
Desiree
If there was a time when I wished Goodreads had the half star feature, it would be now. This was more of a 3.5 for me. I deducted half a star for the way the story wrapped up. (view spoiler) ...more
Rose
May 02, 2011 Rose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was just lovely. Samuel Park writes in such a smooth & gentle way that you're swept along for the ride unable to get off. Set in post war South Korea this story follows the life of Soo-Ja who's a wonderful character to read about. She's strong & kind & has big dreams, waylaid by decisions she must make not only for herself, but for her family as well. The theme of what if laces this story throughout. What if Soo-Ja had made different choices when she had the chance? The mos ...more
Judy Croome
May 06, 2012 Judy Croome rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In a remarkable easy-to-read style, Samuel Park addresses the philosophical issue of free will and choice in his debut novel THIS BURNS MY HEART.

The central character is a beautiful and intelligent Korean girl, Soo-Ja. The reader comes to know Soo-Ja through the twists and turns of a life created by the convergence of several factors beyond her control. The social conditions (South Korea after the Korean War); her ambitions as a woman in a restrictive culture (she wants to be a diplomat in a soc
...more
Angela
Jul 07, 2012 Angela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There seems to be a literary tradition of strong Korean women who are trapped in unhappy lives. I can attest that this not just a fiction, I have seen women in my own family submerge their true selves into the traditions of Korean family life. And no matter how often I see and hear the reasons for this, I cannot understand, even when I benefit from the sacrifice. I don't understand how they live. I often wonder if their true selves scream to be released. If so, it would explain the bad tempers t ...more
Debolina Raja Gupta
Book Details:
Title: This Burns My Heart
Author: Samuel Park
ISBN: 978-1-4391-9961-9
Publishers: Simon & Schuster
No. of pages: 307

When I was approached by BookPleasures to review the book ‘This Burns My Heart’ by author Samuel Park, I was immediately drawn to the plot. I have always loved stories that deal with emotion, family, and real situations, and especially those that talk about culture and traditions of a particular place and its people. So it was that, a few weeks later, the publishers S
...more
Kate Z
Dec 31, 2011 Kate Z rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I so loved this book! Not like Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close but this was one of those books that I wanted to round UP the stars for. It's really more of a 4+ but those have been few and far between (three others from this year come to mind: Moloka'i, The Bells and Super Sad True Love Story).

Loved Soo-Ja, Seoul, Korea, the complex character of Min and the descriptions of what it means to be a parent.

This was a great book to end 2011 with :-)
Jen
Nov 10, 2011 Jen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great look into South Korean culture. Although heart-wrenching at times, I liked how the book showed how bad decisions can affect your life so deeply and send you down unexpected paths, but you become a changed person because of those experiences, perhaps even a stronger, more mature & appreciative person.

Favorite quote (p.109): "Regret and pangs of conscience are feelings we assign to others to make the world seem a little more fair, to even things out a little and provide consolation. In r
...more
Lorraine
May 23, 2012 Lorraine rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
What a beautiful, heart-wrenching story! Soo-Ja's journey through to womanhood is both captivating and heartbreaking! The historical pictures painted throughout the story of Korea's rise from poverty, the traditions and customs of families from all walks of life, mix together to form one of the best love stories I have read in a long time! I am normally not a huge fan of boy meets girl and falls in love...this novel lights that spark and continues to fan the flames of the emotions throughout the ...more
Brynn Devereaux
May 29, 2012 Brynn Devereaux rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was fantastic. I read it in one day. It was so well written and wonderfully set up. It takes place during the changes in South Korea from the 60s to the 70s and features two lovers who seem like they will never get together.

The author did such a great job at keeping the suspense. I wanted to just jump in the book, shake the characters, and say, "What are you doing?!" The story melted my heart a little, and I found it to be a very interesting read. The political/cultural backdrop reall
...more
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Originally born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Korean-American author Samuel Park graduated from Stanford University and USC, where he earned his doctorate in English. He is the author of THIS BURNS MY HEART, which was chosen as one of Amazon’s Best Books of 2011, a People magazine “Great Reads in Fiction,” and one of the Today Show’s “Favorite Things.” THIS BURNS MY HEART was also a Kirkus Reviews’ Best F ...more
More about Samuel Park...

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“Regret and pangs of conscience are feelings we assign to others to make the world seem a little more fair, to even things out a little and provide consolation. 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.” 10 likes
“Why are we asked to make the most important decisions of our lives when we are so young, and so prone to mistakes?” 9 likes
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