If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha is an insightful and powerful story. Cha’s debut novel paints a provoking, ultimately inspiring tale of women pushing back against oppressive customs both traditional and new. If I Had Your Face was published in April 2020.
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This utterly compelling novel follows the interconnected lives of four young women balancing on the edge of survival in contemporary Seoul, Korea.
Kyuri is a heartbreakingly beautiful woman with a hard-won job at a “room salon,” an exclusive bar where she entertains wealthy businessmen while they drink. Though she prides herself on her cold, clear-eyed approach to life, an impulsive mistake with a client one evening suddenly threatens her livelihood. Her 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 an impossible relationship with the super-wealthy heir to one of Korea’s biggest companies. Down the hall from their apartment building lives Ara, a hairstylist whose obsession with a boy-band pop star drives her to desperate extremes. And Wonna, on the floor just below, is a newlywed trying to get pregnant with a child that she and her husband will not be able to afford to raise and educate in the cutthroat economy of Seoul.
Together, they give us a gripping picture of their unfamiliar world of cultural hierarchies, yet unmistakably universal in the ways their tentative friendships will prove their saving grace.
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