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Almond: Book summary and reviews of Almond by Won-pyung Sohn

Almond

by Won-pyung Sohn

Almond by Won-pyung Sohn X
Almond by Won-pyung Sohn
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  • Published in USA  May 2020
    272 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

The Emissary meets The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime in this poignant and triumphant story about how love, friendship, and persistence can change a life forever.

This story is, in short, about a monster meeting another monster.

One of the monsters is me.


Yunjae was born with a brain condition called Alexithymia that makes it hard for him to feel emotions like fear or anger. He does not have friends―the two almond-shaped neurons located deep in his brain have seen to that―but his devoted mother and grandmother aren't fazed by his condition. Their little home above his mother's used bookstore is decorated with colorful post-it notes that remind him when to smile, when to say "thank you," and when to laugh. Yunjae grows up content, even happy, with his small family in this quiet, peaceful space.

Then on Christmas Eve―Yunjae's sixteenth birthday―everything changes. A shocking act of random violence shatters his world, leaving him alone and on his own. Struggling to cope with his loss, Yunjae retreats into silent isolation, until troubled teenager Gon arrives at his school and begins to bully Yunjae.

Against all odds, tormentor and victim learn they have more in common than they realized. Gon is stumped by Yunjae's impassive calm, while Yunjae thinks if he gets to know the hotheaded Gon, he might learn how to experience true feelings. Drawn by curiosity, the two strike up a surprising friendship. As Yunjae begins to open his life to new people―including a girl at school―something slowly changes inside him. And when Gon suddenly finds his life in danger, it is Yunjae who will step outside of every comfort zone he has created to perhaps become a most unlikely hero.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"In what might be the first novel to feature a protagonist with alexithymia—an inability to identify and express one's feelings—Korean novelist Sohn's affecting debut arrives stateside...Winner of the prestigious Changbi Prize for Young Adult Fiction in Korea, Sohn presents a 15-year-old neurodiverse protagonist with much resonance." - Booklist (starred review)

"The novel will appeal fully to adults, but mature young readers who must cope in their everyday lives with the struggles of late adolescence will find themselves identifying with Yunjae and moved by his plight. A sensitive exploration of what it's like to live at life's emotional poles." - Kirkus Reviews

"Impressively portraying Yunjae's shrugged-shoulder calm and efforts to understand his world, Sohn offers a heartening study of human emotion." - Library Journal

"Won-pyung Sohn understands that those who think, feel, and communicate differently aren't society's villains, they are its saviors. Her writing possesses seemingly unlimited empathy and tenderness." - Madeleine Ryan, author of A Room Called Earth

"Almond is a tour de force - deeply engaging, engrossing, and troubling - a poignant allegory of the contemporary Korean condition that marks the debut of a new international talent." - Heinz Insu Fenkl, author of Memories of My Ghost Brother and translator of The Nine Cloud Dream by Kim Man-jung

"Delicate and heartbreaking. Like peeling a fruit, Sohn bares human emotion and questions the human condition with a gentle hunger." - Jamie Marina Lau, author of Pink Mountain on Locust Island

The information about Almond shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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More Information

Sohn Won-pyung is a film director, screenwriter, and novelist living in South Korea. She earned a BA in social studies and philosophy at Sogang University and film directing at the Korean Academy of Film Arts. She has won several prizes, including the Film Review Award of the 6th Cine21, and the Science Fantasy Writers' Award for her movie script I Believe in the Moment. She also wrote and directed a number of short films, including Oooh You Make Me Sick and A Two-way Monologue. She made her literary debut in 2017 with her first full-length novel, Almond, which won the Changbi Prize for Young Adult Fiction, followed by Born in 1988, which won the Jeju 4.3 Peace Literary Award.

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