Book Review: If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha


If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha
My rating: 4 stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟
Publisher: Ballantine
I'm in a book hangover after reading this. I couldn't put it down but it really depressed me while I was reading about the lives of these women. It ended on a note that made me feel that even if all the things didn't work out well, each woman was resilient enough to be okay.

There's so much I want to say about this relatively short book but I just don't have it in me to do a detailed review. I do want to give a word on a passage where Wonna talks to her in utero daughter about what kind of relationship they'll have, how much joy Wonna would take in her daughter's happiness and how important it was for the daughter to know she was loved and cherished. I loved that and it felt important, especially because Wonna was not a cherished daughter. It was important to her to give her daughter what she hadn't received. I was (still am) a cherished and loved daughter. My parents gave me that but my mother was not a cherished daughter. Her depth of love for me sometimes takes my breath away and I can honestly say that I didn't really truly comprehend it, until I became a mother. This part, Wonna's hopes for her daughter, will stay with me most. Well done.

It was very good but I think I'm going to go find an apocalyptic or pandemic book to cheer myself up. I'd read another by Cha in a heartbeat... post-pandemic.

Highly recommended.

Summary:  A riveting debut novel set in contemporary Seoul, Korea, about four young women making their way in a world defined by impossibly high standards of beauty, secret room salons catering to wealthy men, strict social hierarchies, and K-pop fan mania.
"Even as a girl, I knew the only chance I had was to change my face… even before a fortune-teller told me so."

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.

Together, their stories tell a gripping tale that's seemingly unfamiliar, yet unmistakably universal in the way that their tentative friendships may have to be their saving grace.

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