I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
A tragic, emotional and powerful story about the reality of war and its impact on both a nation and the everyday people living through that war takes center stage in author Young-Im Lee’s Forgotten Reflections: A War Story. Here’s the synopsis:
In the current international climate where North Korea takes center stage, “Forgotten Reflections” weaves an inspirational tale of family, lost memories, folklore and an unforgotten history, spanning three generations as South Korea rises from the ashes.
DARE TO DREAM IN THE MIDST OF WAR.
1945. Rice fields seem endless in a quaint farming village of South Korea, yet Iseul the villagers have been starving for as long as they can remember. Their Japanese colonizers have taken every last grain with them as they are finally forced out of the Peninsula. In the newly independent Korea, Iseul and Jung-Soo dream of what their future might bring. Yet, war is on the horizon, and Iseul has fallen for an alleged North Korean communist spy.
Men are conscripted and rice is taken to feed the growing army as the Peninsula is thrust into an international war that would determine if the strategic region will become communist or democratic. With nothing but the news of death and hunger awaiting the village of women, children and the aged, Iseul musters up whatever hope she has left to bring the village together to make paper. Soon, the village once known for its rice, becomes famous for its paper, becoming a beacon of hope for their battle-worn soldiers awaiting letters from their loved ones.
Yet spies and communists continue to roam South Korea, turning neighbors and families against one another. For years, Jung-Soo has been suspicious of his father’s allegiances. With a series of mysterious revelations about his father, Jung-Soo is forced to choose between his tainted communist past, and the future he hopes to have with Iseul after the war.
I have to say, this was one of the most emotional stories I’ve read in recent years. The true heartbreak of the impact of war is felt throughout each and every page of this story. Never has a book been more relevant, as the struggle between North and Souther Korea (and the rest of the world) continues to be a constant focus in our world today. The struggle of those innocent soldiers and simple villagers looking to survive made this story have an incredibly huge impact. The relationship between Iseul and Jung-Soo is the emotional core of this tale, and the modern day mystery of what happened to the two friends and romantic partners keeps the reader hanging by every page.
The writing was beautifully done. While the book is a long one, (nearly 600 pages), the story is so enrapturing that you find yourself drawn further and further in. The most impactful thing about this book however is while the setting is incredibly vivid and highlights the struggle of both North and South Korean citizens back during the war, but it shows the affects of war in general. The heartbreak, the tragedy and the impact the constant death and struggle has on both soldiers and citizens alike.
Overall this was an incredible read. Filled with emotional connections you don’t always find in historical fiction and with a lesson on love and trust, this is a must read for any historical fiction fans out there. If you haven’t yet, be sure to read author Young-Im Lee’s Forgotten Reflections: A War Story today!