Summary and book reviews of Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha

Your House Will Pay

by Steph Cha

Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha X
Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
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  • Published:
    Oct 2019, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jamie Chornoby
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Book Summary

In the wake of the police shooting of a black teenager, Los Angeles is as tense as it's been since the unrest of the early 1990s.

But Grace Park and Shawn Matthews have their own problems. Grace is sheltered and largely oblivious, living in the Valley with her Korean-immigrant parents, working long hours at the family pharmacy. She's distraught that her sister hasn't spoken to their mother in two years, for reasons beyond Grace's understanding. Shawn has already had enough of politics and protest after an act of violence shattered his family years ago. He just wants to be left alone to enjoy his quiet life in Palmdale.

But when another shocking crime hits LA, both the Park and Matthews families are forced to face down their history while navigating the tumult of a city on the brink of more violence.

Excerpt
Your House Will Pay

Ava was buried in the Paradise Memorial Park in Santa Fe Springs, though where exactly, no one was sure anymore. Four years after her funeral, the cemetery closed shop when its owners got caught reselling burial plots, stacking multiple bodies into single graves, most of the dead poor and black, with poor black families who were easy to ignore. They dug up corpses and coffins, dumped them in piles of dirt and remains to get scattered again, sharing the ground with the bones of strangers. Ava didn't have a gravestone anymore—where her grave used to be, there was a gravestone for someone named Cornelius Henderson, a World War II vet, dead since 1959. The bodies had been piled and shuffled, and there was no way to know if Ava was anywhere near where they laid her down.

It had been years since Shawn last came here. Aunt Sheila hated the place. When she found out what happened, she lost sleep for weeks, this last insult bringing back all the ones that had ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The walls between victim and shooter dissolve as the story develops. Cha effectively captures the nuances, because rather than vilifying either party, she accounts for the struggles, moral ambiguities and motivations of each character. Still, she does not deflect from the racism and classism of the past and present, refusing to deny the awful truths that people often choose to ignore to make sense of what happens to them. In this way, she crafts a story that is potent with honesty and urgency...continued

Full Review (729 words).

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(Reviewed by Jamie Chornoby).

Media Reviews

Los Angeles Review of Books
Compelling and risk-taking...That Cha is drawn to contend with voices that don’t strictly represent her cultural heritage, while taking head-on one of the most devastating events in Los Angeles history, is admirable as well as ambitious. Cha is a remarkably generous writer.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
This timely, morally complex story could well be Cha's breakout novel.

Booklist (starred review)
Gripping, thoughtful...May well be [Cha's] breakout novel.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
[A] riveting thriller about two families' heartbreaking struggles to confront and transcend rage and loss...Cha's storytelling shows how fiction can delicately extract deeper revelations from daily headlines.

Library Journal (starred review)
Powerful...Unforgettable.

Author Blurb Viet Thanh Nguyen, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
Steph Cha's Your House Will Pay has got it all. This suspense-filled page-turner about murder, repentance, and forgiveness draws from the fraught history of Los Angeles, where America's immigrant dream bleeds into America's racist nightmare. The novel would have been relevant thirty years ago. It will likely be relevant thirty years in the future.

Author Blurb Michael Connelly
A marvel. Cha finds new angles on a city that has been the focus of myriad stories and films. Unique and totally gripping.

Author Blurb Attica Locke, Edgar-Award winning author of Bluebird, Bluebird
Steph Cha has taken a dark moment in Los Angeles's violent history and cracked it wide open, creating a prism of understanding...A touching portrait of two families bound together by a split-second decision that tore a hole through an entire city.

Reader Reviews

Victoria

Surprising find, great take on 90s race relations
Thanks to Netgalley and HarperCollins for the ARC of this novel. I enjoyed this a lot. It paints a nuanced picture of the aftermath of a racially based set of tragedies, modeled on the killing of a black teenage girl by a Korean business owner in the...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Chopin's Farewell Waltz

Daguerreotype of Frederic ChopinIn Your House Will Pay, one of author Steph Cha's characters is a gregarious, astute journalist called Jules Searcey, who is known for writing about issues related to political and racial dissent. He penned a breakthrough book based on his reporting called Farewell Waltz: The Life and Death of Ava Matthews, which covered the murder of a young, bright Black girl killed during the 1992 riots in Los Angeles. Since Ava was a talented musician, Searcey titled the book after a piano piece—Frédéric Chopin's Waltz in A-flat major, op. 69, no. 1, more commonly known as the Farewell Waltz.

Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) is widely considered the greatest Polish composer and a maestro pianist. His talents flourished early on;...

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