The Golem and The Jinni – Helene Wrecker
Contemporary, fiction, historical, Yiddish folklore, middle eastern folklore, golems, jinni.
The Golem woman was made on a ship heading to America to be her master’s partner. Unfortunately he didn’t make it through alive but she is born and alive. She decides to continue the journey and go to America. She tries to adjust with the help of a widowed Rabbi who took her in. Jinni was released from his bottle and is unfamiliar with the new time that he is in. The person who unleashed him gets him work. Both the Golem and Jinni are working so hard to fit into this new society they are involved in. At one point their paths are crossed, both baffled by each other’s existence. The Golem introduces herself as Chava and he introduces himself as Ahmad. Both spend time together and their friendship blossoms.
I found that this was an exceptionally beautiful book and the way it was written was so well. Both the Yiddish and Middle Eastern lore are together and woven in such a way that this felt so natural. Two different worlds colliding in an interesting way. The time that this novel takes place was perfect for the plot. Coming to America is truly a life changing event and Wrecker just captures that aspect perfectly with this. I had tried to read this in the past but never got to fully appreciate it until I read it this time fully. This had diversity in a way that was respecting the cultures involved and the peoples as well. I simply loved Chava and her perspective. I found that I was liking her a bit more than Ahmad. I did like him too because his character was intriguing. She was simple and was very caring. I loved her big heart throughout the book. Honestly this book was the best book I have read so far that really made me feel a lot of emotions. I definitely would recommend this to be on one’s bookshelf for sure.
Pachinko – Min Jin Lee
Families, Korea, domestic fiction, family life, cultural, heritage, historical, fiction.
Starting with Sunja, the daughter of a crippled fisherman and his wife, she is young and falls in love with a wealthy man. Later she finds out she’s pregnant and he is the father of her unborn child. However, he doesn’t want to marry her because he is already married and with three daughters in Japan. He tries to make right of the situation by offering her a house and funds. She rejects his offer and tells him to go away. While working with her mother at the boarding house, there is a sickly minister who is thankful for Sunja and her mother for caring for him. He asks the mother about Sunja and she tells him she’s pregnant but the father doesn’t want to be involved. Isak offered to marry her and give the child a name. Sunja takes the offer and both get married then leave Korea for Japan. Sunja and Isak stay at his brother’s place and her sister in law takes care of Sunja. When the baby is born, he is named Noa.
Years later Sunja and Isak have their second child, Mozasu, when he ends up in prison thus making life much more difficult for his brother to supply for his wife and his sister in law. He has to make sure that there is enough food on the table and enough money to send both children to school. Noa is happy and content with his life and wants to further his education whereas his brother doesn’t want to further his education. When news of Americans going to bomb Japan’s Nagasaki, they flee where they live into the country with a family who hosts them. They return back to the city and go on with their lives. They all wish that they can go back home to their original country of Korea but life goes on for them and they have to be content that they are alive and healthy.
I had seen and heard about this book for the longest time. I was hesitant to read because I typically don’t read historical fiction. I regret not reading this novel much sooner and I am blown away by the beauty of this novel. This novel took me on a journey through history around the time of 1900 to about 1989ish. Between those years were World War I, World War II, and the Korean War that this family, that was told in four generations, had witnessed over time. Not only that but they were going through their own experiences and trying to survive life that was not safe for them. I really loved the storytelling because this is a different perspective on history through the eyes of those who were deeply impacted by the wars and colonization. Not only that but discriminated against. This novel doesn’t just have discrimination from adults to adults but in the parts that were talking about the children of Sunji in school they too were discriminated against by other children. Discrimination in all types and forms is extremely harmful and mean. I found that this novel was beautifully written. Overall, I really love this novel and the writing is beautiful and I had such a time reading this novel of different feelings and emotions. I deeply recommend this book in any format. Just know it is a very lengthy book but this is worth the read.
The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
Historical, romance, fiction.
Patroclus is sent away after murdering a boy to serve as an exile punishment. Patroclus meets Achilles, a son of a goddess, Thetis. At first, they were distant but over the years they have become very close and intimate with one and other. Achilles’s mother comes to warn that her son will die and become a god. Patroclus doesn’t like this at all and neither does Achilles but it’s his fate. Patroclus hates this news and tries to tell Achilles to not do anything because they are lovers. A war demands them both to fight. When a woman comes between them, life changes for both but it revealed some truths that both are astonished.
I was surprised when I read this because I hadn’t known much about Achilles and Patroclus but after reading this made me go looking for the lore of these stories. I had to reread The Odyssey and other lore fiction. I love this book and wished that this was longer. The author stuck to the lore and didn’t butcher nothing. Sadly, it wasn’t long enough. I finished this book within a single days’ time. I recommend this novel for anyone who is into historical fiction with some romance.