Social Media Icons

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Review: If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha

If I Had Your Face
by Frances Cha

Thank you PRHAudio for this gifted audiobook.

Publisher: Random House Audio
Publish Date: April 21, 2020
8 hours 10  minutes
Genre: Contemporary

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.

My Review:

If you're looking for a very plot driven book, this will not satiate your needs.  But if you're looking for a very character driven novel of friendship, Korean culture, societal norms, gender roles and trying so hard to keep up with unrealistic beauty.. well, dive on in.

Cha's writing is very in your face, which I didn't mind at all...and not meant to be punny considering the title... ahem.  Cha gives us a reality check in how women's beauty standards are way too unfathomable and the women who are doing every thing they can to meet them. It's exhausting. Creased eye lids, smaller noses, more defined cheek bones, lashes, eye color - it never ends.  We are all aware of the popularity of Korean beauty products, k-dramas and k-pop.  Now imagine being a Korean women, looking for a husband, being told they need to change this or that... what's the sense in all of this? And yet it is ingrained in our culture - most every culture in fact.

Sidebar: do you remember that article years ago about the Chinese man who divorced and sued his wife he couldn't understand why his daughter came out so ugly and didn't resemble the parents.  HE WON. She spent thousands upon thousands of money on plastic surgery.  Judge agreed he got married under false pretenses. Sigh. Y'all.... 

Anyway - I wanted a bit more from these characters.  I enjoyed their struggles and relationships - we all need support.  But I did feel it all ended a bit abruptly and I wanted a bit more. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about the whole thing.  It's brilliant in its own right - especially as a debut.  But it didn't *quite* give me that punch I was expecting.


No comments

Leave a Comment