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Your House Will Pay

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  339 ratings  ·  98 reviews
A powerful and taut novel about racial tensions in LA, following two families—one Korean-American, one African-American—grappling with the effects of a decades-old crime

In the wake of the police shooting of a black teenager, Los Angeles is as tense as it’s been since the unrest of the early 1990s. Protests and vigils are being staged all over the city. It’s in
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 15th 2019 by Ecco
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Average rating 4.18  · 
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when i heard about this book, the first thing i thought (after "what a fantastic title that is!") was that it would be a readalike for All Involved, which was a sharp and gritty piece of crime fiction in which gang-affiliated characters used the racial tensions and violence of the l.a. riots in the aftermath of the rodney king verdict as an excuse to seek revenge for longstanding grudges, leading to a back-and-forth killing spree leaving many intended targets dead along with unaffiliated innocents caught
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I've been working on this book since the end of 2014, and while I get maybe one more shot at sifting for typos, I think I can finally say it's done. It's a bit of a departure from my P.I. series, a literary/social crime novel about two Los Angeles families, a contemporary story with deep roots in the black/Korean tensions of the early '90s. I've worked long and hard on it, so I'm not gonna qualify this: I think it's really good and I can't wait for you all to read it.
Jessica Woodbury
This is an ambitious book. It's trying to tell a very specific story, tied deeply to a particular place and time, exploring the repercussions of an often-forgotten set of racial tension between Black and Korean people in Los Angeles. As Cha notes, the specifics are often lost in the larger story of Rodney King and the Watts riots. While it's very specific, it will also feel relevant to anyone living in the US right now, a time of protests and memorials and repeated unspeakable losses.

Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Steph Cha's Your House Will Pay is simultaneously thrilling and thoughtful, a novel about the aftermath of a fictional grocery-store shooting in 1991, in South Los Angeles, just after the Rodney King verdict was announced. The pregnant wife of the Korean proprietor shoots and kills a 16 year old black girl in a rapidly escalating scene of anger, misapprehension and lethality--informed by a complex of relationships and events which Cha follows like the chain of radioactive ink spreading through the ...more
Ben Loory
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A smart, powerful, fully-engaged book that never once blinks or backs down or takes an easy out, and then nails one of the best endings I've ever read.
Jul 28, 2019 marked it as dnf
I won this via goodreads giveaways in exchange for an honest review. All my opinions are my own.

Well done book, but not my cup of tea unfortunately :(
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Timely, unflinching, and delving deep into the heart of a conflict that divided LA. This is exactly the kind of literary crime novel you hope for -- one which goes beyond news articles and rote analysis and digs into the heart and experience of the people who lived it. This is a heartfelt exploration of both sides of a deep conflict, a conflict with social and historical relevance but one which starts and ends with two families. Won't spoil the ending but for me it really brought home the releva ...more
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In 1992 L.A at the time of rioting tragedies hit the streets hard, and one family in this tale harder.

The corruption spreading and the divide, the two sides of the fence of the divided denizens of LA strung through the narrative.
Two families need fixing with all the regret and pain travailed.

This crucible of good and evil in this L.A before you with a history of violence with innocence and guilt reoccurring strung together words with storytelling skill has carefully
Ron S
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Steph Cha delivers a subtle and morally complex work of fiction based on the 1991 murder of a 15 year old black girl by a Korean store owner, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and served no jail time. Most of the events in the novel take place between June and September 2019 and it sadly feels as though Cha is writing narrative non-fiction in real time. Mild spoiler alert: a riot breaking out in September 2019 (two months ahead of my writing this, and a month before the book will be ...more
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Thanks to HarperCollins for the ARC at BEA 2019!

Wow. Just, wow. This book packs one hell of an emotional punch. This is a phenomenal look at the black-Korean tensions in L.A. during the 1990s and the continued state and interpersonal violence the black community faces, not just in L.A. but across the country. It gets raw and personal and it doesn't hold back. This book hit me like a bus to the chest with it's well written characters facing deep emotional trauma and confronting genera
Farzana Khan
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loved this book throughout until the end, which wasn't really satisfying. After a massive build up there wasn't really an end, and maybe it would have been too complicated an end but it would have been nice to have one

Still, a really quick and engaging read. I think this book will do really well when it publishes.
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Your house will pay is a stunning debut that leaves you breathless till the final page. Steph Cha has taken the all too familiar story of racism and utterly flipped it on its head. Beginning with the history of the LA race riots of 1992 and ending present day with a redemptive force, this thriller paced novel absolutely leveled me.
The background story of the novel is based on an actual event from which in 1992 a young Korean woman was working at her corner store whe
Oct 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is the most un-put-downable book I've read in forever, 299 pages in three sittings. I cried at least thrice, but it was also funny and intense and beautiful, each sentence perfectly crafted. This book is going to be huge.
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There are many professional reviews of this book, written by actual writers who know how to use words. I agree with the ones I have read. You should read those too. I will add, though, that it is f&;@/*%# spectacular. It is sharp. It is synonyms of sharp. Well done. Spectacular.
Caroline Gerardo
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review is unfinished. I need a week to mull it over. My personal experience mixes in the plot and makes my mind muddy. Backstory: I was nine months pregnant during the riots. Was rehabbing a building on Bonnie Brae and 6th while gang members who I knew by name filled glass coke bottles with gas they siphoned (by mouth and tube from parked cars). A Korean family owned a donut shop and a liquor store across from us. They sat on the roof with weapons, I sat in the un-gated parking lot thinking ...more
Aug 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, edelweissplus
Your House Will Pay is a remarkable book. It takes place along two timelines. The first begins shortly before the Rodney King riots when a panicking Korean shop owner shoots and kills a Black girl. She's convicted on manslaughter, but serves no prison time. The second begins twenty-seven years later, when that woman is shot in front of the pharmacy her family now runs, and a cousin of the girl killed years ago pleads guilty to the shooting.

Nothing here is easy. Everyone carries anger
This book revisits one of the sparks that ignited the L.A. riots in 1992, a shooting of a black teenager (Latasha Harlins) in the back of the head by a Korean liquor store owner (Soon Ja Du). The shooter doesn’t serve jail time, claiming self defense. This race conflict between these two groups intensified during the riots. This is history. The book takes this history and brings us to today, with fictional characters, as Eva Matthews being the dead teen and Yvonne Park as the shooter.

Suz Jay
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The author’s note in YOUR HOUSE WILL PAY states that the book was inspired by the 1991 shooting death of fifteen-year-old Latasha Harlins by liquor store cashier Soon Ja Du. Cha’s book focuses on the ramifications of a similar incident, where sixteen-year-old Ava Matthews is shot in the head by a Korean liquor store owner after an altercation involving a container of milk, which escalated racial
Cindy H.
Oct 06, 2019 rated it liked it
I appreciate what author Steph Cha attempted to do with this novel. Taking from a troubled piece of recent history, (the 1992 LA Race Riots) Cha examines its long term effects on various family members & communities that were involved. A timely lesson that history often repeats itself and we are doomed if we fail to learn from these shocking acts of violence.
This book is getting lots of good press and I’m pleased for the author. Unfortunately for me, I found the story a bit too Young Adult
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Your House Will Pay” by Steph Cha, Ecco, 320 pages, Oct. 15, 2019.

In 1991, Shawn Matthews, 13, and his sister, Ava, 16, who are black, are waiting in line at the movie theater in Los Angeles. The movie is canceled and people loot nearby stores.

Lately, Korean store owners are being robbed by gangs. One morning, Ava and Shawn are buying milk in a liquor store when the store’s owner, Jung-Ja Han, mistakenly believes that Ava is shoplifting.

Jung-Ja Han accuses her and grabs
I was really looking forward to this one, and learning that Southland--one of my favorite novels, sparked Steph Cha made me so eager to listen but I'm disappointed, TBH. I think Jamie (BR unusual suspects) covers the reasons why in her own GR review very well.
Jul 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
3.5 Stars

This book is so timely and relevant. Set in LA during the aftermath of the Watts riots as well as today, it explores complex race relations that have continue today. Told through the lens of two families, a Korean American and an African American, both Grace and Shawn grapple with familial love and betrayal. This read will prompt many hard conversations and give us all something to think about.

I received an arc from the publisher but all opinions are my own.
Kalin Guerra
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book made me appreciate an extremely delayed flight.
Rachel | mrs.bennett.reads
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
“Maybe this was just how the world worked: people forgot awful truths all the time, or at least forgot to remember.”

This book was unexpected, and wonderful. It takes a mature, nuanced, and empathic looks at racial tensions and injustice evolving throughout the recent history of Los Angeles. Two families are living in modern LA that seemingly have nothing in common - one black, experiencing extreme racial prejudice, death, gang violence, and imprisonment, and one Korean, living an almost idyllic l
Kathleen Gray
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Park family has a dark and ugly secret and Grace, the younger daughter, is the only one who does not know it. This ambitious and well written novel twines two families caught by violence and racial fear more than hatred and it does it in a way that will make you think. Shawn's sister Ava was shot in 1991; Shawn and his cousin Ray have been dealing, badly, with it since then. They've both spent time in prison. Shawn has gotten his life together but Ray is only now, in 2019, out of federal cus ...more
Jamie Canaves
One Of The Year’s Best Crime Novels

I want to start by saying that if you’re a fan of crime novels, I recommend picking this one up without knowing anything about it as I really love the way Cha unfolds everything–basically you’ll get maximum impact. For those going, “Nope, I’m gonna need to hear more,” here you go: Cha’s novel is not only built upon the turmoil and unrest from the 1992 Los Angeles riots but also based on a real case many have probably never heard of. Following a Kore
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A powerhouse of a novel about two families in LA, one is African-American the other is Korean-American following the aftermath of a decade old crime.
Themes of violence, race, tension and loss make for a very intense and thoughtful read!

This is sooo good!!! Steph Cha has managed to write a story surrounding a particular dark and violet moment in Los Angeles's history with such precision and magnetism! Her storytelling skills are strong! She created this believable story full of generatio
Niklas Pivic
"We got our tickets already. We paid for them and everything."

"That don't mean shit."

The genesis of this book is non-fiction: In 1991, Latasha Harlins was shot and killed by a store owner named Soon Ja Du. This sparked all sorts of nationalist and racist tension and violence, naturally contrasted with the racist violence and abuse that the black community in Los Angeles have been subject to for decades. The year after, the Los Angeles Riots occurred.

Cha's book jumps of
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Everyone is racist, one character says in this novel. This line spins in my head as I, an Asian-American raised by adoptive white parents, read this book, filled with secrets and actions turned inside out.

What a time -- with a bigoted President in the White House and white supremacy running amok in the United States -- to publish this book about race, crime, family, loyalty and forgiveness.

Every person is flawed, but are we all racist?

The stories, from the time of Los Angeles's Rodney King to
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