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Your House Will Pay

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,305 ratings  ·  305 reviews

“[A] suspense-filled page-turner.” —Viet Thanh Nguyen, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Sympathizer

"A touching portrait of two families bound together by a split-second decision.” —Attica Locke, Edgar-Award winning author of Bluebird, Bluebird

A powerful and taut novel about racial tensions in Los Angeles, following two families—one Korean-American, one

Kindle Edition, 318 pages
Published October 15th 2019 by Ecco
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Average rating 4.14  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,305 ratings  ·  305 reviews

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Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
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

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
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 ...more
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
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
Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poc-author, favorites
One of those books that feels TOO REAL to my own life

Watch my full review:
David Yoon
Dec 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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)
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
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
Janelle | She Reads with Cats
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
Ben Loory
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5, rounded up.
Nov 24, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.

Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 laid down truths in the
Angie Kim
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Powerful. Ambitious. Intimate and raw. Such an important, nuanced story. READ THIS!!!!
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 :(
Alison Hardtmann
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book
This novel begins with the shooting of a black teenage girl in Los Angeles, an event which takes place shortly after the Rodney King beating and which sets off a series of riots. Ava is sent to the corner store to pick up milk one morning. The pregnant Korean shopkeeper accuses her of shoplifting and the argument which follows ends with Ava shot in the back.

Decades later, Ava's brother Shawn has built a life for himself, a steady job, a family and a determination to keep things calm. And Grace
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
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 Latasaha Harlins, examining the fallout of the crime on the two families. My
Nov 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the early 90s, LA was a powder-keg of racial tensions, with the beating of Rodney King, along with the riots and vigils that followed. The killing of 15 year old Latasha Harlins, an African American, by a Korean shop-owner, was another explosive incident, that occurred during that period.. This powerful novel, fictionalizes that story, focusing on the families of Latasha and the female Korean shop-owner, taking the reader, from the time of the shooting to the current day, as these people ...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 Korean-American
Ron S
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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 generational
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 when she got into an
Farzana Khan
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Lisa Lieberman
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I attended a panel at Bouchercon where Steph Cha spoke (along with other "diverse" writers -- although the panel was titled "Not a Diversity Panel" -- I guess that was irony) about the challenges of getting it right.

IT: creating characters who do not look like you, who come from different racial or religious or social or economic backgrounds, characters who are of a different gender or sexual orientation, or who are transgender. You want to get inside their heads, you want your story to feel
Sharon L.
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. This is one of the crime novels published in 2019 that I hope to see on many of this year's "Best of" lists. I loved it and can't stop thinking about it. The book is somewhat quiet, but increasingly tense, with a narrative shifting between two very different characters dealing with different traumatic events in their families--and once it becomes clear the traumas are intertwined the dread is palpable.

This novel has a deep sense of place (L.A.) and history (the aftermath of the
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“Palmdale was a far cry from the old place. No hustle, no bustle. No corner stores, no helicopters, no laughing teens running wild. Just arid suburbia with a coarse, plain face. It was boring here, and Shawn had come to love the bland peace of it over the years.” 0 likes
“There wasn’t much around: a warehouse, a wire fence, scrubby bushes on hard yellow ground, power lines draped across an empty, burning sky.” 0 likes
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