This Burns My Heart
Beautiful and ambitious, Soo-Ja Choi attempts to find happiness in a land where wives have no rights and mothers own nothing, where love remains elusive, and the only way to survive is to live the lessons of Confucian tradition: perseverance, strength, loyalty, and grace. Charting her way through an ill-advised marriage, Soo-Ja must navigate the intrigue and dangers of living with her conniving in-laws, all the while longing for her true love of the past, the elusive Doctor Yul. And when he enters her life again, Soo-Ja is confronted with a final chance at happiness, but must make a mother’s ultimate choice.
Epic and intimate, Park’s debut offering—based on his own mother’s story—is a snapshot of a nation rising from a poor, rural country into a major world power in the aftermath of a devastating war. This Burns My Heart evokes a strong sense of place and era reminiscent of Sarah Waters, and the richly drawn characters and exploration of women’s changing roles brings to mind Lisa See.
- Simon & Schuster |
- 320 pages |
- ISBN 9781439199633 |
- July 2011
This Burns My Heart
Reading Group Guide
Set in South Korea during the 1960s, This Burns My Heart centers around Soo-Ja, an ambitious young woman who finds herself trapped in an unhappy, controlling marriage. She struggles to give her daughter a better life and to overcome the oppression of her husband, while pining for the man she truly loves. Ultimately, she must make her own way in a society caught between tradition and modernity.
TOPICS & QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
- Early in their courtship, Soo-Ja thinks of Min as weak: “But what she realized was that she wouldn’t mind that—being the strong one. She’d like to swoop in and care for Min, who seemed like such a lost soul sometimes… He was the opposite of Yul, who seemed to need nothing and no one.” (p. 51-52) Is Soo-Ja’s perception accurate? Does Min change throughout the book, or has he just masked himself during their courtship? Is Soo-Ja naïve to want such an unbalanced (and untraditional) relationship?