This Burns My Heart

A Novel

This Burns My Heart

In this "extraordinary" (Chicago Tribune) and compelling love story set in postwar Korea in the 1960s, an unhappily married woman struggles to give her daughter a good life and to find love in a society caught between ancient tradition and change.

On the eve of her marriage, beautiful and strong-willed Soo-Ja Choi receives a passionate proposal from a young medical student. But caught up in her desire to pursue a career in Seoul, she turns him away, having impetuously chosen another man who she believes will let her fulfill her dreams. Instead, she finds herself tightly bound by tradition and trapped in a suffocating marriage, her ambition reduced to carving out a successful future for her only daughter. Through it all, she longs for the man she truly loves, whose path she seems destined to cross again and again. In This Burns My Heart, Samuel Parks has crafted a transcendent love story that vibrantly captures 1960s South Korea and brings to life an unforgettable heroine.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439199633 | 
  • July 2011
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for This Burns My Heart includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Samuel Park. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

INTRODUCTION

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

  1. 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) r
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About the Author

Samuel Park
Ryan Bakerink

Samuel Park

Samuel Park was an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago. He graduated from Stanford University and the University of Southern California, where he earned his doctorate. He is the author of the novella Shakespeare’s Sonnets and the writer-director of a short film of the same name, which was an official selection of numerous domestic and international film festivals. He is also the author of the novels This Burns My Heart and The Caregiver. His nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times. Born in Brazil and raised in Los Angeles, he split his time between Chicago and Los Angeles. In April 2017, Samuel Park died of stomach cancer at the age of 41 shortly after finishing The Caregiver. 

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