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If I Had Your Face

A Novel
Written by: Frances Cha
Length: 8 hrs and 10 mins
5 out of 5 stars (10 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A riveting debut novel set in contemporary Seoul, Korea, about four young women making their way in a world defined by impossible standards of beauty, after-hours room salons catering to wealthy men, ruthless social hierarchies, and K-pop mania

"Absolutely stunning.... If I Had Your Face marks the entrance of a bright new voice in fiction." (Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times best-selling author of Daisy Jones & The Six)

Kyuri is an achingly beautiful woman with a hard-won job at a Seoul "room salon", an exclusive underground bar where she entertains businessmen while they drink. Though she prides herself on her cold, clear-eyed approach to life, an impulsive mistake threatens her livelihood.

Kyrui's roommate, 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 heir to one of the country's biggest conglomerates.

Down the hall in their building lives Ara, a hairstylist whose two preoccupations sustain her: an obsession with a boy-band pop star, and a best friend who is saving up for the extreme plastic surgery that she hopes will change her life.

And Wonna, one floor below, is a newlywed trying to have a baby that she and her husband have no idea how they can afford to raise in Korea's brutal economy.

Together, their stories tell a gripping tale at once unfamiliar and unmistakably universal, in which their tentative friendships may turn out to be the thing that ultimately saves them.

©2020 Frances Cha (P)2020 Random House Audio

What the critics say

"It's difficult to believe that this is Frances Cha's first novel - she's a masterful storyteller. I was riveted reading about a world I knew nothing about, and from the first page, it was clear Cha was the best possible guide." (Ann Napolitano, New York Times best-selling author of Dear Edward)

"With graceful precision, unflinching honesty, and intimate compassion, Frances Cha writes, in exacting detail, of the desperation and dreams of five young women in modern-day Korea.... A haunting novel of intelligence and sensitivity." (Binnie Kirshenbaum, author of Rabbits for Food)

"Each voice in this quartet cuts through the pages so cleanly and clearly that the overall effect is one of dangerously glittering harmony.... As engrossing as a war chant, or a mosaic formed with blades, every piece a memento sharpened on those unyielding barriers between us and our ideal lives." (Helen Oyeyemi, author of Gingerbread)

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful Debut Novel About Young Korean Women

I really enjoyed this book. I found the writing clean, pretty, precise. I also appreciated that though the novel was written from the perspective of different women, some of whom were quite young, it depicted the layers of their existence, quest for self-knowledge, and experiences of womanhood with depth and complexity. The book also brings you into the world of a Korean sex worker and a visual artist. As someone who loves literature and visual arts equally, I appreciated the author's ability to capture the unique perspective of an artist, the obsession with colours, light, form. As an Iranian-Canadian who also hails from a culture obsessed with cosmetic surgery, I found the world of Korean women facing these issues fascinating and intriguing. Cha also presents a character who has a disability and must face adversity but does so with immense strength and empowerment. Very fresh and good writing.

Lastly, and perhaps this is becoming effusive, I loved the recording. The voices were crisp, clear and beautiful. There was a needed element of theatre and respect for Korean words in pronunciation that appealed to me. Loved this audio book.

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  • Sinbad
  • 2020-04-27

I kept thinking the story would get better but it did not.

I was interested in the beginning and thought it would become more interesting but it just went down hill rapidly. I did not like this book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • cs
  • 2020-04-28

Please make a movie out of this!

I was completely captivated by all the characters and their stories. It is so accurate and of the times. Please make this into a movie!

1 person found this helpful

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  • judyp
  • 2020-04-23

Wonderful balance of entertainment and harsh reality

I loved this story and the narration. Kept going backwards so I would not miss a detail. Looking forward to more from both author and narrators.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Keesters
  • 2020-06-29

This has been my favorite book so far this year

This book was such an unexpected surprise. Just what I needed. I loved the voice for each of the characters and enjoyed this more than any other book, so far this year.

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  • M. Lyons
  • 2020-06-26

Fascinating and Mesmerizing

‘If I Had Your Face’ is a fascinating, well-written novel told in the perspective of four women in South Korea that live in the same apartment building. I found the characters and their stories mesmerizing, even though I didn’t necessarily like them. I felt like a voyeur viewing their lives and struggles with poverty, misogyny, and unrealistic beauty expectations. The single characters tended to view their lives in a short-term lens as they assume their future prospects are bleak due to dramatic wealth disparity.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-06-06

wanted more depth

if you are looking for a nice novel about the many dramas in korean society this is the book for you. I thought it was going to delve deep into the social problems in korean society around women in beauty.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-05-25

Amazing book!

This book lets you feel the pain, struggles, and sisterhood love that Korean women are fighting nowadays to let show, don't miss this experience!
It's important to let their voices be heard!

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-05-20

4 readers indistinguishable

There are 4 readers/ performers in this audiobook. I wish each of the voices that narrated had something distinguishable about it that separates them from the 3 other voices. The voices all sounded similar--mousey and lacking energy. The performances could have benefitted from being more lively and energetic. Now on to the content of the book: Are we to think that no Korean women can be happy in such a fiercely unfair and patriarchal society? One of the four main characters in the story says that pretty much, though the POVs we hear from are only of poor women forced into miserable jobs.

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  • Lucas Hicks
  • 2020-05-09

Cynical and Great

it reminds me greatly of The Bell Jar hy Sylvia plath and is a wonderful commentary on Korean Society.