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.
-Excerpt taken from Goodreads.
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“I would live your life so much better than you if I had your face.”
(3 / 5) Isn’t that a beautiful cover? I love it. And that quote really makes you think! The book is about 4 women in modern day South Korea. Their friendships, relationships, careers, everyday life and the challenges they have throughout. I have yet to confirm some of this with my few Korean contacts, but it’s fascinating. I thought America was obsessed with looks but in this book, Korea is dominated by it. Women spend thousands upon thousands of dollars at younger ages to shave bone off their chin to change their face shapes or get eyelid surgery or their armpit skin lightened and so much more. The extent of what they would do, the pain it causes and sometimes death, was astounding.
I wish the story would’ve focused on one woman or specific aspects of each of their lives but instead it gave me a taste of all aspects and never gave me a conclusion. Each woman’s story left me hanging for multiple chapters but was never resolved at the end. When I finished, I threw the book down and said, “That’s it??” For the majority of the book I was searching for the point or idea it was trying to express. Ultimately, this was a glimpse into many Korean lives and the difficulties they have. I have so many questions! It was definitely interesting to read but I would have preferred a direct story line with a conclusion.
The content has language (including F words), sex is talked about but no real details. Some women work in an escort service-like place that sometimes leads to prostitution. There are triggers of miscarriages, child abuse and neglect and suicide.
Thank you to Frances Cha, and Random House for gifting me this book. This book comes out today, April 21, 2020.
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