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If I Had Your Face

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3.95  ·  Rating details ·  243 ratings  ·  132 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
Hardcover, 288 pages
Expected publication: April 21st 2020 by Ballantine Books
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Cat Chapman There are some f bombs and misogynistic slurs (cat calls, etc) sprinkled in dialogue throughout. If you're concerned about explicit content, do know…moreThere are some f bombs and misogynistic slurs (cat calls, etc) sprinkled in dialogue throughout. If you're concerned about explicit content, do know that the book contains adult themes and potential related trauma, which could be more pressing than the language itself.(less)

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Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  243 ratings  ·  132 reviews


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Amalia Gavea
''In the original story, the little mermaid endures unspeakable pain to gain her human legs. The Sea Witch warns her that her new feet will feel as if she is walking on whetter blades, but she will be able to dance like no human has ever danced before. And so she drinks the witch's potion, which slices through her body like a sword.''

Seoul, South Korea. Four women try to make ends meet in a society that has raised them with unattainable expectations, corrupted aspirations and images they have
...more
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
Liz
Mar 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
If the purpose of a book is to take you to a place youve never been, then this one fulfilled that role. Seoul, Korea and the young girls trying to make their way in a competitive world where beauty is the sole focus and plastic surgery is the norm.
This book is just heartbreaking right from the get go. It delves into the lives of five young women that live in the same apartment building. We hear from four of them, in alternating chapters. This book was a real eye opener for me. I knew about the
...more
monica kim
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
wow i just adored this book!! its very slice-of-life, but i found myself just falling in love with each of the girls and hoping for the best for each of them. i would recommend it to anyone who loved hello my twenties - this book definitely has a darker/more realistic tone, but i still think if you enjoyed one, youd enjoy the other! ...more
Rachel
Dec 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
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
Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell
I watched a video on YouTube that was all about the many plastic surgeries available in Korea. It's a booming industry. Really excited to see a (hopefully feminist?) take on it in literary fiction.
Ash
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of contemporary fiction with feminist themes
Thank you to NetGalley and Ballantine Books for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I didnt know what to expect from this book. I dont read a lot of contemporary fiction, but this one caught my eye for a few reasons. First, the cover. Im a sucker for bright colors so that caught my attention right away. Second, Im always on the lookout for books that take place in other countries. Its an excellent opportunity to learn something new. And third, theres nothing I love more
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Blair
(3.5) Set in Seoul, If I Had Your Face follows four very different young women who live in the same building. Ara is a mute hairdresser who has an unexpected violent side, heightened by her obsession with a K-pop star. Kyuri is a former prostitute who, having transformed her looks with plastic surgery, makes lots of money at an exclusive 'room salon', but also has huge debts. Miho, outwardly the most successful of the characters an artist who has returned to Korea after a scholarship in New ...more
Elle Rudy
Mar 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, 2020
I would live your life so much better than you if I had your face.

Whatever I was hoping to get out of this novel, I received just that and even more. Ive been especially interested in how women in other parts of the world live and interact with one another, so when I saw in the description that this was ...set in contemporary Seoul, Korea, about four young women making their way..., I really couldnt pass it up.

Though the four main characters live in close proximity, in the same building, their
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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 Rubys suicide started dating Rubys rich Chaebol-heir boyfriend while using Ruby as a
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Sonja Arlow
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

I didnt 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 Namis 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 a
...more
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 womens arcs are more satisfying than others, and if anything this book left me wanting more of these characters, each ...more
BookOfCinz
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Utterly addictive read. Utterly addictive!

I read If I Had Your Face in less than a day, I absolutely could not put this book down and I did not want it to end.

Set in bustling Seoul, Korea we meet four young women who beat all the odds and are currently living in the city, but they continue to face a lot more than they are equipped to handle.

We meet Kyuri who spends her nights getting drunk with rich businessmen at a salon that hires only beautiful women. Kyuri entertain men on a nightly
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The Artisan Geek
Feb 28, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: bookcase


28/2/20
A huge thank you to Ballantine for gifting me a copy of this book! Extremely excited to read this book and discuss it as well :D

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Roman Clodia
The gorgeous cover made me grab this, along with the chance to get an insider view of female lives in Seoul. Some of it is shocking, particularly the extreme plastic surgery that has women shaving their jaws to meet someone else's ideal of female beauty even if it means they can't eat... but at heart I found this sticks to a formula: the four female friends who support each other through everything.

All the women speak with the same voice and there's something a little muddy about the writing so
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Briana
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
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. Its a sharp, unfiltered, smart, and unforgiving social critique and analysis that doesnt 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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Paul Fulcher
Jan 24, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: net-galley, 2020
'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 isnt 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
...more
Lynne Lambdin
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Ive spent the last year working with children from Asian countries. For a side hustle, Ive remotely been teaching them English. This really has brought on a great interest in learning more about Asian culture. When I read the synopsis for If I Had Your Face I was incredibly intrigued. If I Had Your Face offers insight into the culture for women in South Korea. The story takes readers on a journey with four different younger Korean women with various backgrounds. Offering a variety of points of ...more
Amanda
Oct 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminist, arc, 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
Lois (thecarrotstories)
I felt like I was watching a k-drama series!

Traveling to a different country and learning of their culture can be an interesting experience. We would normally learn the different exciting traditions they practice. However, we rarely get to see the harsh reality and lives until we live there.

This book is uniquely written to express a part of that harsh culture that is prevalent in South Korea today. I was shocked by their definition of success and beauty, the struggles of the poor, broken
...more
Helen
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, arcs
I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review thanks so much to Netgalley for sending this to me!

On paper (no pun intended) If I Had Your Face sounds like a book that really shouldnt work. Its a slice-of-life type novel following four women Ara, Kyuri, Miho and Wonna and their every day struggles, largely due to the pressures of the South Korean beauty industry. Sex worker Kyuri is in horrendous debt thanks to her many surgeries; artist Miho is obsessed with her dead
...more
Nuha
Mar 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
ARC courtesy of NetGalley and Random House Ballantine

If I Had Your Face follows five modern Korean women as they transverse their 20s covering issues like disability, wealth and education inequity and beauty standards. Similar to sisterhood narratives, each girl has her own voice and characters alternate chapters. Unfortunately, something about the writing did not stick with me. The topics either felt very rushed or very superficial with one dimensional characters. There's no growth or change or
...more
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
...more
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
...more
Wendy Cosin
Mar 22, 2020 rated it liked it
If I Had Your Face introduced me to a world I knew nothing about - young Korean women living in contemporary Seoul. There are four main women who each narrate alternating chapters in the first person. They (and one other woman) live in the same apartment building. I was interested in their life experiences. Two had multiple surgeries to "improve" their face so they could work at the best salons where they are arm candy for wealthy men. One is an artist. One is a mute hair stylist. One is a ...more
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
Katie
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc-beta, pccr-reads
ARC provided by Ballantine Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

"I would live your life so much better than you if I had your face"

When I pulled myself out of this book, I don't think I fully knew where I was. For a while after turning that last page, my mind was still in the office-tel in Seoul with our characters, contemplating where their lives would go next. If you are looking for an upbeat read or a happy ending, look for another book. But if you're looking for
...more
maya
Mar 17, 2020 marked it as to-read
Shelves: arcs, wishlist
🌿Arc kindly provided through Netgalley by the publisher. All thoughts and opinions will be my own. Thank you🌿
BookswithAdi
Mar 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was such a wonderful story of strong female characters. The crafting of their lives was so vivid that I really felt as if I was with them. The topics were so relevant and it was a pleasure to learn more about Korean culture. I enjoyed to Google the food they ordered and everything felt unbelievable authentic. The pressure to be beautiful is nowadays immense and the cultural critique was done well. Also marriage and getting kids was discussed and how difficult it is currently. This really ...more
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.
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