If You Leave Me: Book summary and reviews of If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim

If You Leave Me

by Crystal Hana Kim

If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim X
If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2018
    432 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

An emotionally riveting debut novel about war, family, and forbidden love - the unforgettable saga of two ill-fated lovers in Korea and the heartbreaking choices they're forced to make in the years surrounding the civil war that still haunts us today.

When the communist-backed army from the north invades her home, sixteen-year-old Haemi Lee, along with her widowed mother and ailing brother, is forced to flee to a refugee camp along the coast. For a few hours each night, she escapes her family's makeshift home and tragic circumstances with her childhood friend, Kyunghwan.

Focused on finishing school, Kyunghwan doesn't realize his older and wealthier cousin, Jisoo, has his sights set on the beautiful and spirited Haemi - and is determined to marry her before joining the fight. But as Haemi becomes a wife, then a mother, her decision to forsake the boy she always loved for the security of her family sets off a dramatic saga that will have profound effects for generations to come.

Richly told and deeply moving, If You Leave Me is a stunning portrait of war and refugee life, a passionate and timeless romance, and a heartrending exploration of one woman's longing for autonomy in a rapidly changing world.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Kim's lyrical inter-generational saga resonates deeply and will appeal to readers who enjoyed The Orphan Master's Son." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Kim renders her multi-voiced, multilayered ancestral and cultural history into stupendous testimony and indelible storytelling." - Booklist

"Though this bulky saga is not as compelling as it could be, Kim's portrayal of the effects of mental illness on a family at a psychologically naïve time is perceptive and moving." - Kirkus

"Readers who enjoy novels by Jamie Ford and Lisa See will surely appreciate Kim's first work. Filled with brave personalities of all ages and character-driven story lines that are emotionally gripping, this sensitive and hauntingly written novel will easily leave readers wanting more." - Library Journal

"If You Leave Me is graced with truly wonderful writing; great poise, lyricism, intelligence, and an utterly engrossing portrayal of life."- Richard Ford

"An unforgettable story of family, love, and war set against the violent emergence of modern Korea." - Gary Shteyngart

"A gripping, heartrending tale of the birth of modern Korea filtered through the prism of an intimate love story. In fresh, often astonishing prose, Kim brings her characters to life: complicated, flawed, and hard not to fall in love with. A strikingly original work." - Jessica Shattuck

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Author Information

Crystal Hana Kim

Crystal Hana Kim holds an MFA from Columbia University and is a contributing editor for Apogee Journal. She has received numerous awards, including PEN America's Story Prize for Emerging Writers, along with fellowships and support from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, among others. Born and raised in New York, she currently lives in Chicago. If You Leave Me is her first novel.

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