cover image If I Had Your Face

If I Had Your Face

Frances Cha. Ballantine, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-0-59-312946-3

Cha shines a light on the lives of four young women living in the same Seoul, South Korea, apartment building in her winning debut. In alternating chapters, each woman narrates her difficulties and offers insight on the others. Ara, a hair stylist who lost the ability to speak after a violent attack, is obsessed with a pop star. Kyuri, who undergoes plastic surgery to make her face resemble a member of a popular girl band, holds a coveted job in a “room salon” pouring drinks for men, and has become dangerously enamored of one of her wealthy clients. Miho, Kyuri’s roommate, an up-and-coming artist, strives to balance devotion to her work with a relationship to her unfaithful, ultra-rich boyfriend. Wonna, who was physically abused by the grandmother who raised her, is desperate to keep her pregnancy despite her husband’s uncertain finances. Cha navigates the obstacles of her characters’ lives with ease and heartbreaking realism, showing the lengths these women are willing to go to pursue their dreams in a country where they are told they “do not live for tomorrow.” This is an insightful, powerful story from a promising new voice. (Apr.)