Aithy Nguyen

United States of America

Hi! My name is Aithy Nguyen! I loved to read and write, watch TV and movies, listen to music, and oil paint. My favorite foods include oatmeal, brownies, avocados, celery, and peaches. I also have an unnatural fear of dirt.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee Review

February 20, 2019

“Living everyday in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage.”

— Min Jin Lee

With detailed and moving writing, Min Jin Lee weaves a historical tale of love, compassion, and endurance in the face of adversity in her book Pachinko. In this novel, we follow four generations of a Korean family starting from the early 1900’s to the late 1900’s, where Koreans were being oppressed by their Japanese counterparts. There is no doubt this book is a tear jerker. But while it does have its element of sadness, it also has its element of Joy. The readers sympathize with the characters because of all the hardships they face, and admire them for their willpower in the circumstances they are in. There is war, there is poverty, there is loss. But there is also the happiness of family that powers this family for so many years.

This book is an adult book, but I would say this book should be read by the young adults out there who want a mesningful book to read. Min Jin Lee really shows her readers what true pain is, and I believe that is something that teens should know before transitioning into adulthood. This book has so many great elements in all areas including the setting of Japan, the culture of Korea, and the struggles of World War II. There is a lot to learn from reading this book, especially about history and what it was like for certain people. 

The thing that really caught my attention in this book was the family dynamic. It isn’t like normal family relationships, no. It is so much more than that. Sunja, a character that stays consistent throughout the whole novel, is an example of just how complex a character can be. She experiences so much in this book, so much that you just can’t help but love her for yourself. Her family is what drives her, and she is what moves them too. And the connection between them is the ultimate change of their situation later in the novel. Sunja has made a lot of sacrifices for them, and they her. Their love for one another stands out within each chapter in their conversations and actions. There is also have a large cast of characters that I just adore and losing some of them felt like the hardest thing I have ever had to endure. 

I consider this novel to be to be my favorite because of the messages it gives, one of them being perserverence. Nothing easy comes for anyone in the Korean family we read about. They have to work, to bleed, to weep to live. And even so, they continue on in hopes of a better life. Eventually, things do change for them, but there are new challenges to overcome that are just as hard as the last. On top of that, the discrimination against them makes it harder for them to find opportunities, and so they make due with what they can. I just loved following them and seeing for myself how they coped with their harsh environment. And while there was no concrete ending, there was so much room for possibility because of all the things that had happened to them already. 

After finishing, I couldn’t stop thinking about this book for weeks. Though a long book, I was so invested in the story Min Jin Lee had built I flew through the book in what seemed like minutes. It is definitely one that I would personally recommend to anyone who wants a book that will make them think and feel.


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  • February 20, 2019 - 12:28am (Now Viewing)

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