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If I Had Your Face

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3.75  ·  Rating details ·  18,186 ratings  ·  2,682 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 heart
...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published April 21st 2020 by Ballantine Books
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  • If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha
    If I Had Your Face
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    Release date: Apr 13, 2021
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    “Powerful and provocative . . . a novel about female strength, spirit, resilience—and
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    Giveaway dates: May 01 - May 30, 2021

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    Popular Answered Questions
    Paulina Ruiz "The Fold" by An Na is another YA novel that deals with a Korean American girl's decision to get plastic eye surgery. It is a little short regarding t…more"The Fold" by An Na is another YA novel that deals with a Korean American girl's decision to get plastic eye surgery. It is a little short regarding the length (because it was written for teenagers) but it is a great book that you think you might enjoy if you like these sort of themes in novels. I read it and I really enjoyed it :) Hope this helps!(less)
    Cat There are some f bombs and misogynistic slurs (cat calls, etc) sprinkled in dialogue throughout. If you're concerned about explicit content, do know t…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)

    Community Reviews

    Showing 1-30
    Average rating 3.75  · 
    Rating details
     ·  18,186 ratings  ·  2,682 reviews


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    Start your review of If I Had Your Face
    Roxane
    Aug 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
    There are great lines throughout. This book does a lot to explore Korean womanhood. At times it felt a bit like there was a checklist of issues to address but it was still an engrossing read.
    Emily May
    Apr 29, 2020 rated it liked it
    Shelves: contemporary, 2020
    She does not know what this work does to you—how you cannot hold on to your old perspective. You will not be able to save your money because there will never be enough of it. You will keep doing things you never expected to do. You will be affected in ways you could never imagine.

    In the beginning, I was really loving If I Had Your Face. It introduced me to several fascinating characters and it takes on the subject of beauty standards and sexism in Korea. But I think where this book went wron
    ...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 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, pandering ...more
    Amalia Gkavea
    ''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 hav
    ...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 you’ve 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
    Thomas
    Jun 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
    4.5 stars

    Oh wow, I really enjoyed this novel, it felt like a New Adult Korean Gossip Girl, except with way more commentary about patriarchy and capitalism and greater solidarity between women. If I Had Your Face follows four women living in Seoul, Korea: Kyuri, a beautiful woman who’s received a lot of plastic surgery and works in a competitive “room salon,” Miho, a talented artist in a precarious romantic relationship with a rich and handsome boyfriend, Ara, a hairstylist who is obsessed with a
    ...more
    monica kim
    Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    wow i just adored this book!! it’s 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, you’d enjoy the other!
    Elyse  Walters
    Apr 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Audiobook....
    Narrated by Frances Cha, Sue Jean Kim, Ruthie Anne Miles, and Jeena Yi

    Beware....after reading this book:
    ....It will be hard to ever see Korean woman the same again — without thinking of the horrors associated with the underground beauty subculture regime.

    “If I Had Your Face”, is an eye-opening novel of how South Korean women from Seoul, are valued—by both men and women.
    ....Wealthy men want a pretty women at their side.
    ....Insecure women want to look like the pretty women.

    For
    ...more
    Ash
    Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    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 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 mo
    ...more
    Jaidee
    Dec 21, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Recommended to Jaidee by: Paromjit
    3.5 "toxic femininity" stars !!!

    2020 READ WHERE i WISH I WAS EDITOR AWARD

    First of all thank you to Paromjit whose review led me to this novel. I also read Jenny's review that also propelled me to read further.

    I was excited to be approved by Netgalley for an e-copy but when I got to it...the book had expired...so I borrowed a copy from a gal pal.

    I see great things ahead for Ms. Cha who has her finger on both Korean culture and young womens' nihilism, despair and propensities for cruelties unde
    ...more
    Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: dining-room-1
    Thank you, Random House Ballantine, for the gifted book.

    I’ve read very few books set in Korea, and they’ve all been historical as far as I can remember. If I Had Your Face takes place mostly in Korea, with some chapters in NYC when one character travels there to study art. This book is a deep dive character study of four Korean women.

    The thread uniting them all would on the surface appear to be a search for beauty, however, the quests for inner peace and self-acceptance that are also on the tab
    ...more
    jenny✨
    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 5 BEAUTIFUL and bitter stars for compulsively readable writing, wholly compelling characters, and female camaraderie!

    ARA. Left mute after a brutal attack when she was a teenager, Ara spends her days as a hairdresser in Seoul, sharing laughs with her best friend Sujin and dreaming about someday meeting k-idol Taein. She's all but left her childhood where it belongs: in the forlorn town that taught her true violence.

    KYURI. Numerous cosmetic surgeries have shaped Kyuri into a symmetrica
    ...more
    Elle
    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. I’ve 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 couldn’t pass it up.

    Though the four main characters live in close proximity, in the same building,
    ...more
    Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell
    Mar 18, 2020 rated it liked it
    Recommended to Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ by: Emily May

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    IF I HAD YOUR FACE is a multi-POV story set in Korea. It revolves around Kyrui, Miho, Ara, and Wonna. All of them lead very different lives but their intertwining journeys share one similar theme: navigating the misogyny and rigorous gender norms for women.



    The beginning of the book is very strong but after the 50% mark, it kind of peters out. Kyrui and Ara are the best narrators, in my opinion. Kyuri is a hostess who used to be a prostit
    ...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 inste ...more
    Olive Fellows (abookolive)
    Apr 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
    The below review originally appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

    Envy became the green-eyed monster when Shakespeare dubbed it so in Iago’s warning to Othello. Today, we just call it access to Instagram. Scrolling endlessly through a sea of heavily altered photos has the capacity to make any of us feel envious of others, or even go so far as to make us think, “I would live your life so much better than you if I had your face.”

    So ponders one of the main characters of the appropriately titled “
    ...more
    JimZ
    Jul 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Two days ago I finished ‘The White Tiger’ by Aravind Adiga (Man Booker Prize award, 1008) and concluded (to myself) that I certainly do not know much about India. ☹

    Today I finished this novel, and conclude that I do not know much about South Korea. ☹

    Wonder what I’ll read tomorrow? No doubt it will be a trifecta…”I don’t know much about Country X”. ☹

    Anyhoo, I liked this book because it was well-written and held my attention, and I thought the four protagonists were quite interesting. So 4 stars
    ...more
    Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
    Now longlisted for the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize.

    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 da
    ...more
    AnnaLuce
    / / / Read more reviews on my blog / / /

    3 ½ stars

    Engaging and insightful If I Had Your Face is a solid debut novel from a promising writer.
    If I Had Your Face follows four young women trying to navigate everyday life in contemporary Seoul. They live in the same building but to begin with are not exactly friends. We have Ara, a mute hair stylist who is infatuated with a member of a popular Kpop boy band, Kyuri, who has undergone numerous plastic surgeries and works at a 'room salon' where she ente
    ...more
    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 Yo ...more
    Jenna
    For better or for worse, I guess, depending on your hopes and interests (for me, it was for better), this very interesting little book is “about” plastic surgery about as much as Moby Dick is “about” whales or Snowpiercer is “about” trains.

    This poignant novel is truly concerned with how a small group of five younger, independent women, who grew up in hardship (in orphanages or in abusive/neglectful family environments) in more remote areas of South Korea and who now inhabit an “office-tel” apart
    ...more
    BookOfCinz
    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
    ...more
    Barbara
    I listened to the audible production of “If I Had Your Face” by Frances Cha. This highly rated novel includes four female narrators who provide the reader with the soul-crushing beauty expectations in South Korea. From this story, I learned that South Korea has one of the most plastic surgery rates in the world with eyelid and jaw slimming surgeries leading the numbers. What is more astounding is that the jaw surgeries can take over a year to recover. One’s looks ultimately determine one’s wealt ...more
    Jenny (Reading Envy)
    This novel examines topics of beauty, class, the place of women, friendship, and art through the lives of five women who are connected in various ways, set in Seoul. I believe it is set in present day but because of the extreme plastic surgery felt more like near-future.

    I've read several books by female authors set in Korea in the past few years but they were works written in Korean and for Korean audiences (Han Kang, Kim Sagwa, etc). That writing tends to cover similar topics but in a more surr
    ...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 women’s arcs are more satisfying than others, and if anything this book left me wanting more of these characters, each ...more
    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
    ...more
    Emma
    Nov 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: favourites
    4.25/5 Stars

    I wasn't sure what to expect from this book, but what I did not expect was to be completely mesmerized by its characters. I could not put this novel down, they were so interesting that I had to keep on reading to know their stories.

    The characters of this book are four women, who are different but also alike in some aspects. They are all dealing with their troubled past and facing their present and future in the best way they possibly can, even if it isn't always easy.

    The novel is in
    ...more
    capture stories
    Jun 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Beauty, Destiny, and Money.....the trilogy that bounds women to an ugly fate.

    The title of the book caught my attention and had me thinking deeply. "If I had your face," would my life changed for the better? The bleak thought of getting a perfect face visited my mind once and had me the urge to get my face done in exchange for the belief that with a pretty face, life can be more beautiful........

    It's fascinating and daringly honest how the author has brought this topic out in the open with its se
    ...more
    Olivia (Stories For Coffee)
    Following four women from vastly different walks of life, If I Had Your Face is a novel that highlights how competitive one must be to become successful in Korea, the impossible beauty standards that women must aim to achieve, through whatever means necessary, and the different ways a woman can make a living on one's own.

    Told in vignettes, each woman's storyline is universally relatable in some way, whether it be trying to stand up for oneself at work, having to constantly improve one's beauty
    ...more
    MissBecka Gee
    Nov 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
    Recommended to MissBecka by: Jenna
    This is like reading a soap opera...
    No real plot, but a whole lot of drama.
    Not worth the hype.
    Side note: (view spoiler)
    ...more
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