In a dazzling debut, Frances Cha introduces us to five twenty-something Korean women who, each battling their own challenges (reaching for unattainable beauty standards, dealing with the expectations of men, carving out careers and paths in life) learn that they are stronger together when facing the glittering yet cutthroat world of modern Seoul.
Ara is a mute hair stylist obsessed with a K-pop boy-band member.
Sujin is an optimistic girl searching for her place in the world and turns to extreme plastic surgery to find it.
Kyuri is a beautiful escort working at one of Seoul's top "room salons" where she entertains rich businessmen while they drink.
Miho is a talented artist who is in a relationship with the super-wealthy heir to one of Korea's biggest companies.
Wonna is a newlywed trying to have a baby that she knows she cannot afford with a husband who she knows she will never love.
Cha masterfully weaves the past and present of each of these five women, allowing them to shine on their own without compromising the pace of the story itself. Cha also gives readers a glimpse into Korean society, unflinchingly classist and torn between tradition and modernization.
This review is based on the advanced reader's edition. If I Had Your Face will be released on April 21, 2020. Reviewed by staff member Siobhan Egan.