One thing I want to read more in 2021 is adult fiction. Because, let’s be real, I read a lot of fantasy and SF, but general fiction? Nope. Here’s an attempt at changing this with my review of If I Had Your Face! I was lucky my book club agreed to read this! Keep reading this book review to find my full thoughts.
Kyuri is a heartbreakingly beautiful woman with a hard-won job at a “room salon,” an exclusive bar where she entertains businessmen while they drink. Though she prides herself on her cold, clear-eyed approach to life, an impulsive mistake with a client may come to threaten her livelihood.
Her roomate, Miho, is a talented artist who grew up in an orphanage but won a scholarship to study art in New York. Returning to Korea after college, she finds herself in a precarious relationship with the super-wealthy heir to one of Korea’s biggest companies.
Down the hall in their apartment building lives Ara, a hair stylist for whom two preoccupations sustain her: obsession with a boy-band pop star, and a best friend who is saving up for the extreme plastic surgery that is commonplace.
And Wonna, one floor below, is a newlywed trying to get pregnant with a child that she and her husband have no idea how they can afford to raise and educate in the cutthroat economy.
TW: suicide of SC
Part of why I love book clubs is that when I’m chatting about the book, my opinions often change. Not always. But while we were discussing If I Had Your Face I was able to reflect on the character’s friendships on the ways they were all, in various ways, searching for dreams and having them fulfilled. If I Had Your Face examines this idea of beauty as social capital. The things that women will do for beauty, for love, for social standing, for ambition. And, at the same time, it looks at this idea of wishes.
That having another person’s face would fix their problems. If I Had Your Face is about pursuing that wish. Connected by friendship, Cha tells the stories of these complex women. Women who seem to be defined by their appearance, their jobs, their dreams, while also possessing hidden layers, sharp edges, and fierce hopes. How you can fall into a situation which ends up becoming a defining moment. If I Had Your Face examines the promises we make to each other. The ways women use and abuse, exploit and consume beauty, power, and social standing.
It’s a story which is grounded in exploration and friendship. While it feels more like a slice of life kind of story, If I Had Your Face was an easy going read that was character driven. Very few characters were simple, instead portraying their complexities and inconsistencies. If you’re searching for a book with high action, or one which has one of those ‘everything was wrapped up in a neat bow’ then you might wanna pass. But if you like the idea of a character detailed, and driven, story with lingering questions, then check out If I Had Your Face.
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