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If I Had Your Face
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If I Had Your Face

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3.77  ·  Rating details ·  9,475 ratings  ·  1,580 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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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)
Me24 One of the main characters is a high-class prostitute, and there is a lot of talk about that world and the former lower-class brothel where she worked…moreOne of the main characters is a high-class prostitute, and there is a lot of talk about that world and the former lower-class brothel where she worked. A lot of the content is also about affairs. I would say adults only.(less)

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Average rating 3.77  · 
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 ·  9,475 ratings  ·  1,580 reviews


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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: 2020, contemporary
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
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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: 2020, netgalley
“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
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
Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ 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.
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
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
Reposted ahead of its publication.

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 dating Ruby’s rich Chaebol-he
...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
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
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
Emma
Nov 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
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
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
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
Jerrie (redwritinghood)
This book was a great look at how young women are viewed in contemporary Korea with a focus on class differences. The book centers around a group of young women living in an apartment complex, the pressures put on them to have a certain appearance or act a certain way, all geared toward pleasing and placating men in the society. All of the women were also not of the wealthier classes, and the author seems to imply that these pressures are felt more by women who are not part of the wealthy elite. ...more
Kate
Sep 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.25/5stars

This was fantastic. I highly suggest for people who like kdramas or are interested in learning more about korean culture. This touched on a lot of important topics in very unique ways and through actually interesting stories.
Nev
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
I absolutely loved this book. It follows a group of young women living in Seoul as they have to deal with harsh beauty standards, pressure to get plastic surgery, sexism, and rigid social hierarchies. There were four different POV characters and I enjoyed reading from all of them. They each had a rough childhood and we get to see how that impacted their lives moving forward into adulthood.

This is very much a character focused, slice of life novel. There isn’t really an overarching plot, you’re
...more
Lea | That_Bookdragon
3.5/5 ⭐️

Thank you so much to PRH International for providing me with a free e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion!

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


Before you decide to pick up this book, be aware that this is not YA, but Adult fiction. I personally didn't mind and enjoyed that aspect more because nothing was sugarcoated and this book was raw. I feel like this is the best adjective to describe this book: raw. Set in Seoul, South Korea
...more
Fareya
Apr 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: review-copies
If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha is a character oriented literary fiction set in contemporary Korea. It explores the day to day lives of four Korean women, each extremely different from the other and tells their individual stories. It is raw and unsettling, sad and thought provoking but also insightful and enlightening. It mostly focuses on its characters and doesn't really have a traditional storyline.The writing is simple and almost conversational. and the author does a great job of providing ...more
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Reading Women: Just got book 1 37 Sep 29, 2020 01:27PM  
AFAReads: Favorite quotes from If I Had Your Face? 1 19 Sep 18, 2020 12:50PM  
AFAReads: Questions to Kick-Start Your Reading 1 21 Sep 09, 2020 07:41PM  
AFAReads: Letter From the Editor 1 22 Sep 09, 2020 05:49PM  
Play Book Tag: If I Had Your Face, by Frances Cha- 4 Stars 2 17 May 28, 2020 04:11AM  

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