|Title:||This Burns My Heart|
|Publisher:||Simon & Schuster|
|ISBN:||1439199612 (ISBN13: 9781439199619)|
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?
He is not just telling her to stand the pain, but giving her comfort, the power to do so. Chamara is an incantation, and if she listens to its sound, she believes that she can do it, that she will push through this sadness. And if she is strong about it, she’ll be rewarded in the end. It is a way of saying, I know, I feel it, too. This burns my heart, too.
(Summary and cover via Goodreads)
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 love and comfort. Soo-Ja must decide whether to pine after that which she wishes she had or make the best of what she does have.
I absolutely loved this book! There was such beauty and grace to Soo-Ja. Never did she wallow in misery, even while wondering how her life would have been different if she had married someone else. She understood that her life was made by her choices. Soo-Ja had wonderful perspective on everything. I also really enjoyed the aspects of Soo-Ja's wants versus tradition. In a culture steeped in tradition, Soo-Ja knew there were certain expectations made of her. Although they did not make her life easy, she did the best she could to satisfy those traditions and make her own life as she saw fit. She was a beautiful example of adapting and making the best of all situations.
The writing was outstanding. Everything flows so well, and you get a real sense of who all the characters are. I was so moved by this book. This is the kind of book that makes you feel so many things, but in the end I was incredibly uplifted. I am recommending this book as highly as I possibly can. It has been my favorite book so far this year, and I am sure it will be on many "best of" lists to come.
Galley provided by publisher for review.