International historical fiction is not my typical genre, but Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko swept me off my feet. This epic Korean family story starts in the late 1800’s and spans all the way to the late 1980’s. The unifying thread of the tale is Sunja, a resourceful and headstrong woman who has to repeatedly prove her convictions and loyalties through life’s many tests.
Born to a disabled father in Korea, society held low expectations for Sunja. As a teenager, she finds herself falling for the genuine affection of an older, well-off Japanese businessman who she thinks intends to marry her. When she