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If I Had Your Face

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3.96  ·  Rating details ·  109 ratings  ·  58 reviews
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
...more
Kindle Edition, 288 pages
Expected publication: April 21st 2020 by Ballantine Books
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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Paromjit
Frances Cha's fascinating debut set in Seoul, South Korea, is an intimate and heartbreaking portrayal of four different flawed women, their lives and friendships, who live in the same apartment building. The novel echoes many similar themes to another Seoul set book I read earlier this year that focused on a close circle of four female friends, the more humorous Sarong Party Girls by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan. Cha writes of the harsh cultural norms and expectations that women are expected to adhere to, ...more
Rachel
If I Had Your Face is a searing debut that follows five young women living in the fringes of South Korean society, each struggling to make a living for themselves. Few books that claim to tackle misogyny are as successfully unrelenting as this one is; it's a bleak read, but also a beautiful one. This seems to be pitched as a book about the Korean beauty industry, which it is and it isn't; plastic surgery and makeup mostly litter the background of a couple of the narratives, as Cha focuses ...more
Ash
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of contemporary fiction with feminist themes
Thank you to NetGalley andBallantine Books for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I didn’t know what to expect from this book. I don’t read a lot of contemporary fiction, but this one caught my eye for a few reasons. First, the cover. I’m a sucker for bright colors so that caught my attention right away. Second, I’m always on the lookout for books that take place in other countries. It’s an excellent opportunity to learn something new. And third, there’s nothing I love
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Sonja Arlow
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

I didn’t know plastic surgery was SUCH a big thing in South Korea and after finishing the book I just had to googled it. Turns out that South Korea has the highest rate of plastic surgeries per capita in the world.

This book gave a glimpse into this sub-culture I knew nothing about and there was a vapid sadness to Kyuri, Sujin and Nami’s frantic search for validation in all the wrong places.

But the book also showed other young women like Ara who preoccupies her life with obsessing over
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Claire Reads Books
Dec 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this and found myself picking it up at all hours of the day. The ending was a little abrupt and underwhelming, but the appeal here is less the plot (of which there is little) and more the five women that we follow as they navigate the lower rungs of Korean society and try to claw out a space for themselves in a world of unrelenting misogyny. Some of the women’s arcs are more satisfying than others, and if anything this book left me wanting more of these characters, each ...more
Gumble's Yard
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
This is a book set in Seoul which features five young women living in an Officetel in contemporary Seoul. Four of them feature as alternating first party point of view characters.

Kyuri is a prostitute turned Ten Percent salon girl via sheer determination and copious amounts of plastic surgery. Miho an orphan who won an art scholarship to the US where she got involved with a Rich Korean artist (Ruby) and after Ruby’s suicide started dating Ruby’s rich Chaebol-heir boyfriend while using Ruby as a
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Amanda
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, feminist, korean
Survival in beauty-obsessed contemporary Seoul.

This riveting debut follows four young women as they forge a life in a frenetic society where plastic surgery is the answer to getting on.

Beautiful Kyuri works in a 10% (an exclusive room salon which employs only the prettiest girls in the industry) entertaining businessmen.

Orphan Miho is awarded a scholarship to study art in New York where she becomes entangled with the exclusive world of the chaebol (corporation) families.

Mute Ara, a hairdresser,
...more
Briana
Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha is a brutally honest look at contemporary life in Seoul, South Korea from the perspective of four young women who come from unfortunate backgrounds. It’s a sharp, unfiltered, smart, and unforgiving social critique and analysis that doesn’t pretend that everything will be better in the end. I also love that it calls out a problematic aspect of Korean culture. I know
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Nicole
Jan 04, 2020 rated it liked it
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I really have mixed feelings about this book. I have to say that it kept my attention, and I definitely wanted to keep returning to it after I put it down each night. The stories of the various women made me curious about them, and I found myself really wanting to know what happened in their lives.

However, I'm not sure I'm walking away from this book feeling any sort of emotional attachment to it. I liked the characters, but I
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BookBeforeYouLeap
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalleyuk
The story of a group of women trying to survive life in Seoul. They have each found their own path but none of them seem happy. as you follow their lives, their history is revealed.

Written well and easy to follow the story drags you in until you cant put it down.

I enjoyed following the narrative but in the end I felt like I was left with a lot of questions unanswered. I am also unsure if this a true reflection on how society is in Seoul now or the authors vision of the way it is heading, This is
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Jessica ☕ Rodrigues
This novel is an immersive dive into the fierce anxieties and hopes of young women in an unforgiving world where beauty is currency and success depends on your facial symmetry and who you know.

The novel takes place in Korea, mostly in trendy neighborhoods of Seoul, but also into the small backwoods town where a few of the girls grew up. At issue is a suffocating patriarchy that simultaneously punishes women for becoming mothers, but also bemoans the dropping birthrate.

Kyuri (my favorite of the
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Schmimmerock
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I didn't have strong impressions going into this, and I got so much more than I could've dreamed. I mostly picked it up because I love books by women about women, and if said book happens to take place somewhere I've never been, all the better. I'd already read mixed reviews on it, and all I really knew was it was about four Korean women existing in beauty-obsessed Seoul (that, and that the cover was, somewhat ironically, too gorgeous to ignore). Sign me up! Having finished it, I have to say ...more
Elle Rudy
Nov 01, 2019 marked it as to-read
Shelves: netgalley, 2020
*Thanks to Random House - Ballantine & Netgalley for an advance copy!
Leigh Himes
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Was lucky enough to get a galley of this novel that comes out in April. Loved the style, characters and the world. Highly recommend!
Carol
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is super-duper page turner for me! I almost growled when I I had to stop reading. It is contemporary South Korean culture. Because I am not familiar with the current culture there except for K-pop, I am limiting my thoughts to the culture presented in this but I have a feeling that at least holds true for the general culture.

This book covers a group of four women in an apartment building named color but it is painted gray. It is in the most expensive part of the city but three of the girls
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Rums The Reader
Nov 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
CC
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought that this may be a book that would elude me, having never been exposed to Korean culture or the massively popular Kpop trend. But I think that the author has written a story that will resonate with all women, because it speaks to the female role in a society that remains dominated by men. If I Had Your Face shoots from the hip when examining how a woman's worth is measured by her perfection in the high beams of the male gaze- beauty that only copious amounts of surgery and touchups can ...more
LianaReads blog
Nov 28, 2019 rated it liked it
More of 3.5 stars actually.
It’s interesting to read about Seoul and it’s habitants and lifestyle. There’s nothing really happening in this story as plot twists and turns, unfortunately.
It’s a story based more of four characters, childhood friends that are young and see the life very superficial as the only important thing is to look the best part through a million plastic surgery and live an empty life in my opinion.
The chapters are told in each character POV and at times I got annoyed
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Georgina
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
'Sometimes I just can't stop thinking about how ugly she is. I mean, why doesn't she just get surgery? Why? I really don't understand ugly people. Especially if they have money. Are they stupid?... Are they perverted?'

A dark and twisted insight into modern life in Seoul, where life is hard but women are sold the myth that beauty and status will fix any problem. 'If I had your face' focuses on four young women struggling to survive in a city where facial surgery is a worthy goal and everyone
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mylogicisfuzzy
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Frances Cha’s impressive debut novel explores the lives of five women (four of whom are narrators) living in an office-tel building in contemporary Seoul.

Ara is a mute girl in her early twenties working as a hairdresser and fantasising about meeting a popular Kpop boy band singer. Her neighbour Kyuri has undergone several plastic surgeries in order to be beautiful enough to entertain rich men at a high end ‘room salon’. Miho is her flatmate and an artist dating an heir to one of Korea’s big
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Winter
Jan 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paul Fulcher
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, net-galley
'Unless you are born into a chaebol family or your parents were the fantastically lucky few who purchased land in Gangnam decades ago, you have to work and work and work for a salary that isn’t even enough to buy a house or pay for childcare, and you sit at a desk until your spine twists, and your boss is somehow incompetent and a workaholic at the same time and at the end of the day you have to drink to bear it all.'

If I Had Your Face (네 얼굴이 있다면) by Frances Cha paints a rather exaggerated, but
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Jodie Matthews
November book review 14.

If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha. I was kindly given a digital copy of this through @netgalley and @penguinukbooks in exchange for an honest review.

If I Had Your Face is told from the points of view of four different women, in the ‘hyper-competitive city’ of Seoul. This is the first book I’ve read set in South Korea, and the cultural signifiers within the book were satisfying.
Kyuri is one of four characters - a young, beautiful, (slightly empty) woman who works in one
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Georgia Challinor
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was initially attracted to If I Had Your Face due to the surge in the cultural phenomenon of plastic surgery in Korea. This, in itself, raises issues around self-confidence and the individuals' need to feel perfect. The popularity of plastic surgery in Korea is soon demonstrated within the novel to be a result of societal pressures, particularly on women, to match a certain idea of what it is to be a woman. The four main characters within this novel each struggle with the conflict of being ...more
Atharv G.
Jan 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 Stars

ARC received in a Goodreads Giveaway.

I thoroughly enjoyed this snapshot in the lives of four women in contemporary Seoul and the author's incisive social commentary on the experiences of these women. The author used a lot of sharp one-liners which I thought were really clever and added a welcome level of humor to the experience. I agree with a lot of reviewers on two points: firstly, the characters all had very distinct voices and the author did a great job of making them complex, and
...more
Victoria
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs, 2020
The story of different women within one building and how their stories entangle, 'If I Had Your Face' is an exploration of Seoul that you do not see all that often, as we see the city through the eyes of different women as they grow up in a city that seems only just tolerate their existence.

The Male Gaze, negative body image, and misogyny that trickles through these women's lives throughout the book demands your attention as these women combat it in their everyday lives - (view spoiler)
...more
Taylor
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an original and dazzling debut, centering around four women living in the same apartment building in contemporary Seoul, Korea. These women navigate a beauty-obsessed, patriarchal society that attaches their value to their appearance.

Kyuri is a beautiful salon girl who caters to wealthy men in an exclusive salon room. Miho is a talented artist harboring a secret obsession with her best friend. Ara is a mute hairstylist whose obsession with a boy band member distracts her from her
...more
Megan
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to review this book before its publish date.

If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha is about a group of young women living in an office-tel in South Korea. (I had to Google "office-tel." Apparently it's a multipurpose building where people both live and work.) Most of the women grew up together in an orphanage, so they have that in common. Their circumstances also overlap in the areas of cosmetic surgery, difficult working conditions, pop culture,
...more
Megan
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to review this book before its publish date.

If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha is about a group of young women living in an office-tel in South Korea. (I had to Google "office-tel." Apparently it's a multipurpose building where people both live and work.) Most of the women grew up together in an orphanage, so they have that in common. Their circumstances also overlap in the areas of cosmetic surgery, difficult working conditions, pop culture,
...more
Belinda Lewsley
Dec 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have never read a book which is set in Korea before, so that is already a first with this story. I have always been fascinated by the country but I just don’t see books based in that area at all.

The writing is very stylish and skilled and I was very impressed to find out this is a debut novel. It’s descriptive without being too rambling and I believe every word was chosen with great deliberation.

The storyline made me sad to think there are people out there who are willing to put their lives
...more
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