Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Your House Will Pay” as Want to Read:
Your House Will Pay
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Your House Will Pay

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  4,531 ratings  ·  808 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 this dangero
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 15th 2019 by Ecco
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Your House Will Pay, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Your House Will Pay

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,531 ratings  ·  808 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Your House Will Pay
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.

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 unaf

4.5 stars

It’s not often that a book I read impacted me so much that I was rendered virtually speechless immediately afterwards — to the point that despite having finished this book several days ago, I had to wait to write this review because I needed time to regroup and gather my thoughts. The reason this book impacted me so much is because the subject matter it covered hit a little too close to home for me, as it brought back memories from 27 years ago and emotions that felt so real, I truly fe
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Oh, shoot. Wow. This book packs a punch.

I highly recommend the audiobook. It's chef's kiss.

Set in L.A., this novel examines racial tensions, grief and absolution, through the lens of two families tied together by a decades old crime.

Our protagonists, Grace Park and Shawn Matthews, aren't even aware of their connection to one another until after Grace's mother is shot outside of the family-owned pharmacy.

As Grace tries to grapple with why anyone would target her moth
Dec 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
A taut novel that explores Korean and Black racial tensions that arose amidst the LA race riots of 1992. Steph Cha fictionalizes a real-life event: in 1991, Soon Ja Du, a Korean female convenience store owner, shot and killed Latasha Harlins (in the novel: Ava Matthews), a 15-year-old African American girl. While Du was tried and convicted of voluntary manslaughter she received no jail time. In Your House Will Pay, Cha writes about the aftermath of this event in the present day, from the perspec ...more
Michael David
Aug 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
YOUR HOUSE WILL PAY is one of the best, and most important, books I have read this year.

Los Angeles, 1991: Just after the brutal beating of Rodney King, and the police shooting and killing of an unarmed black teenager, tension and unrest in the communities are at an all-time high. Shawn and his family will be affected.

Years later, in 2019, Shawn, now an adult, is still dealing with the events of the past. Grace and her family live just outside of L.A., and her and Shawn’s world are about to co
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story is set in Los Angeles and is about two worlds colliding - one Korean-American family and one African-American. It is based on a true story of the shooting of Latasha Harlins in 1991 by a convenience store owner. This story also starts in 1991 one week after the beating of Rodney King when Ava Matthews, her brother Shawn, cousin Ray and friend Duncan cut school and go to a movie which is cancelled due to overselling. A riot and looting follows the cancellation as much due to the tinder ...more
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is shortlisted for the 2020 TOB.

Yvonne Park, an elderly Korean woman is shot while closing her store just after seven o’clock in the evening. However, Yvonne Park is not the name she was born with. Jung-Ja Han is the woman’s birth name.

Yvonne changed her name to hide from an incident in which she shot and killed a young black girl back in 1991. Yvonne thought that the girl was trying to steal a bottle of milk and when she confronted her a fight broke out between them and it ended with
Feb 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
***3.5 Stars*** A potent story based on an actual event during the 1992 LA race riots when a black, teenage girl was shot and killed by a Korean shop owner. This fictional novel moves between that timeline and current events to detail the aftereffects of that death on the lives of the two African American and Korean American families involved.

The characters are imperfect and the book’s resolution is complex reminding me (the reader) that sadly, not much has changed in race relations in the last

You know how a book can find you at the exact right moment? This is that book. It originally published last year, but it could not be more relevant than it is today. This story is told from two perspectives: a Korean Family (via Grace's perspective) and a Black Family (via Shawn's perspective). Given the title and the summary, I was wondering if there would be a nod to Romeo & Juliet, but I'm happy that the author (who is fantastic) took it in a different direction completely.

The pro
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.

We see this
Mar 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: korea, 2020-read, usa
"Two households, both alike in dignity
(In fair Los Angeles, where we lay our scene),
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean."

This tragedy of Shakespearean proportions is based on the real case of Latasha Harlins, a 15-year-old Black girl who was shot in the back of her head in a convenience store after an altercation with the Korean store owner Soon Ja Du. Latasha Harlins died, Soon Ja Du received no jail time (despite the video evidence). Korean-Amer
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poc-author, favorites
One of those books that feels TOO REAL to my own life

Watch my full review:
Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: california
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 ...more
Dec 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Two weeks after four LAPD officers were caught on camera "arresting" Rodney King, 15 year old Latasha Harlins is shot at point blank range by Korean store owner Soon Ja Du, her death captured on grainy convenience store footage.

It's the inspiration for what Steph Cha calls her social crime novel. Here, Ava Matthew is likewise shot by a Korean shopkeeper. 30 years later, Ava's brother Shawn is trying to move past the tragedy and lives a quiet live in Palmdale working as a mover. Their cousin Ray
Sep 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Your House Will Pay explores the reverberations in two families after a Black girl is killed by a Korean store owner. Cha faces complicated dynamics head-on in this eloquent, relevant novel. So much power is contained in just 299 pages.
Feb 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
In this incendiary tale of racist rage, economic struggle, and societal injustice, Cha manages to (mostly) avoid reducing her characters to avatars or her plot to a simple moral object lesson. The complicated, irrational, sometimes contradictory nature of real grief and loss is allowed to make its messy way through the community. Not sure how far it will progress in the 2020 ToB, but it's a worthy shortlist selection.
Carmel Hanes
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I worked with kids who were affiliated with gangs. I heard stories...of their exploits and those of others. The news is filled with stories about riots, uprisings, protests, violence between different factions. We still have a problem with racism and mindless hatred in this country (heck, the entire world). It's a huge problem, and has created an abundance of literature to reflect it.

This is one of those stories, focusing on two families and the cost of fear and vengeance. It could have been a
Jul 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2020
This book is a heartbreaking and sensitive work about race and class, incarceration and murder, and police and protests that could not be more timely. It is every bit as excellent as you’ve heard.

I do not want to say too much about the plot. I knew a little bit going in and was still surprised at many of the turns - but wish I didn’t know the initial setup.

This book does a great service to the current (and long-standing) racial and police strife by depicting so many of its characters in such a h
Donna Davis
The quality that distinguishes Cha from other top-tier mystery writers is her absolute fearlessness in using fiction to address ticklish political issues. Your House Will Pay is impressive. I read it free and early thanks to Net Galley and Harper Collins. I am a little sick at heart that I’m so late with my review, but this book is rightfully getting a lot of conversations started without me. It’s for sale now, and you should get it and read it.

Our two protagonists are Grace Park and Shawn Matth
Katie Long
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the Tournament of Books for introducing me to titles, like this one, that were not on my radar. The plot explores a racially motivated killing from the perspective of family members of both the victim and the killer and the ripple effect throughout their communities. This setup allows Cha to explore the ways in which perception of these events, that seem so easy to judge from the outside, change when someone you love is involved. Cha succeeds in making this a compelling novel, instead of ...more
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
Dec 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really great book. Set in present day LA, but flashes back to the 1992 racially-motivated riots in south central LA, particularly the tensions between the Korean shop owners and their black customers. The author did a wonderful job of creating distinctive voices for the two main characters. Besides race relations, this book also explores guilt, revenge, justice, forgiveness, and family. The ending veered a little too dramatic for my tastes, but otherwise it was a really great read. 4.5⭐️ rounded ...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.
Janelle Janson
Thank you Ecco Books for my free copy.

Steph Cha’s YOUR HOUSE WILL PAY is a fictionalized story based on the 1991 tragic murder of Latasha Harlins. The crime took place during the time of Rodney King and the LA Riots where racial tensions were high. A convenience store owner named Soon Ja Du assumed 15-year-old Latasha was shoplifting orange juice, things escalated quickly, and when Latasha turned to leave, Soon Ja Du shot her in the back of the head. The store owner was convicted of voluntary m
Nov 24, 2019 rated it did not like it
Your House Will Pay is just not resonating with me at this point. I am about forty or so pages into it and it is just not grabbing me, so for the time being I am going to set it aside.

For one thing, I think novels with alternating viewpoints and stories told in flashbacks and flip-flopping chapters are hard to assemble and the way it is done in this novel is not working for me.

2.5 rounded up

Split between the LA race riots of 1992 and the continued killing of black citizens by police in 2019 in the US, Your House Will Pay tells the story of two families caught up in these events from the perspectives of one member of each family, with sections set in the early 90s but primarily in the present day.

Cha's novel tells the story of a fictional crime with very real life parallels to the murder of Latasha Harlins, examining the fallout of the crime on the two families. My han
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I upgraded my rating from a 4 to a 5 after spending the last 24 hours thinking about this story. I just spent the morning with my 16 year old son, and I told him I want him to read this. At first I got the usual eye roll, but then I told him about the historical events that are the backdrop for this book. We talked about Rodney King and the shooting death of Latasha Harlins. We talked about Traeyvon Martin, Eric Garner, Black Lives Matter. Suddenly, my teen got very interested.

Besides the main
Angie Kim
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Powerful. Ambitious. Intimate and raw. Such an important, nuanced story. READ THIS!!!!
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5, rounded up.
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
I can see why this book is such a favorite in the Tournament of Books short list. It's a page-turner with a strong but not simplistic social justice message, and flesh and blood characters I have to keep reminding myself aren't real. I lived in LA at the time of the '92 riots and it authentically brought it all back to me. At a time when writing outside your own culture can be fraught, I think Cha was equally strong and empathetic with both Korean and African American characters.... as best as I ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Saudade
  • Overthrow
  • Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen
  • Devotion
  • All This Could Be Yours
  • Commute: An Illustrated Memoir of Female Shame
  • Interior Chinatown
  • The Perseverance
  • King in Waiting (Lord Edward's Archer, #2)
  • Bone China
  • Optic Nerve
  • The Crying Book
  • When You See Me (Detective D.D. Warren, #11; Gardner Universe, #20)
  • A Single Thread
  • Pursuit
  • A Fortune for Your Disaster
  • Pine
  • The Liars of Mariposa Island
See similar books…

Articles featuring this book

There's something great about a paperback book: They're perfect book club choices, you can throw them in your bag and go, and they've been out in...
61 likes · 19 comments
“Grace snapped. “And what, you’re so great? Because you turned on the woman who raised you? Who sacrificed everything to come to a foreign country so her kids could have a better life? Why do you think you’re so goddamned enlightened in the first place? It’s because Mom and Dad busted their asses so you could go to a fancy Ivy League college. Have you ever worked in a convenience store in South Central? Have you ever even been inside a convenience store in South Central?” Grace heard Miriam open her mouth and close it again, and Grace could tell that she’d been inside a convenience store in South Central but thought better of saying it. Probably research for an essay.” 1 likes
“Smoke rose in a pillar like something from the Bible, dark and alive and climbing, becoming one with the gray sky.” 1 likes
More quotes…