Published: October 14th, 2021
Genre: Literary Crime Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Thriller, Translated Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Happy Publication Day to this intriguing and thought-provoking novel. Thank you to Jade at Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.
In the summer of 2002, nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on was murdered in what became known as the High School Beauty Murder. There were two suspects: Shin Jeongjun, who had a rock-solid alibi, and Han Manu, to whom no evidence could be pinned. The case went cold.
Seventeen years pass without justice, and the grief and uncertainty take a cruel toll on her younger sister, Da-on, in particular. Unable to move on with her life, Da-on tries in her own twisted way to recover some of what she’s lost, ultimately setting out to find the truth of what happened.
Told at different points in time from the perspectives of Da-on and two of Hae-on’s classmates, Lemon is a piercing psychological portrait that takes the shape of a crime novel and is a must-read novel of 2021.
“And so began the revenge of the yellow angel. Lemon, I muttered. Like a chant of revenge, I muttered: Lemon, lemon, lemon.”
Set in Korea, Lemon examines the murder of nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on in July 2002 and the impact it had on those left behind. Told by a trio of narrators, the story begins with the interrogation of one of the two boys suspected of her murder, and then follows chronologically to the present day as her sister searches for the truth of what happened that summer night.
The story unfolds from three different perspectives: the victim’s sister, Da-on, and two of her classmates and each has a unique voice that makes them easy to distinguish from one another. But it is Da-on whose voice is the loudest of them all. Hae-on was the beautiful older sister and when she was killed Da-on was left feeling even more inadequate in comparison. To try and fill the void of her sister’s absence Da-on resorted to extreme measures, including extensive plastic surgery, to try and emulate her sister. But it didn’t work and she is still left struggling to move on. Over the years she becomes increasingly focused on Han Manu, one of the boys suspected of Hae-on’s murder, and embarks on an obsessive search for answers and revenge. It would be impossible not to feel for Da-on, her pain so vivid and raw that it makes you want to weep. And while I didn’t always agree with her actions, I did understand them.
An intriguing and compelling read, there is a dark, haunting atmosphere that pervades each page. Beautifully written, I loved how the author used different writing styles for the different narrators yet still manages to make it all blend together and flow seamlessly. I particularly loved the chapter titled ‘Rope’ as it just felt so unique, so different to anything else I’ve read. But I have to confess that I have been left with mixed feelings about this one and think it will be a bit of a marmite book. I was all set to give this a five star rating but then it ended in such a sudden and ambiguous way. I was left feeling stunned, like I must have missed something as surely that couldn’t be it. I’ve been pondering on it ever since I finished and I still feel the same way. While I think this is a great book that is worth reading, I would caution anyone who reads it to be prepared for a cryptic climax that will make you think about what you just read.
While it is a short read at just 148 pages, this is a book packed with emotion that examines a variety of topics. Not only does it look at the impact of Hae-on’s death on those still living over the years, but it also looks at how families were torn apart and lives ruined by suspicion. It also explores how a desire for justice can lead to a quest for vengeance and asks if healing is ever really served by doing so. Is it better to sometimes leave things without closure than cause further hurt and pain by focusing on the past?
A thought-provoking and fascinating read, Lemon is a striking and reflective story that will linger long after that final page.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Kwon Yeo-sun was born in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province of South Korea in 1965. Kwon enjoyed a brilliant literary debut in 1996 when her novel Niche of Green was awarded the Sangsang Literary Award. At the time, novels that reflected on the period of the democratization movement in South Korea, were prevalent.
MEET THE TRANSLATOR:
Janet Hong is a writer and translator based in Vancouver, Canada. She received the 2018 TA First Translation Prize for her translation of Han Yujoo’s The Impossible Fairy Tale, which was also a finalist for both the 2018 PEN Translation Prize and the 2018 National Translation Award. She has translated Ha Seong-nan’s Flowers of Mold, Ancco’s Bad Friends, and Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s Grass.
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Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.
Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx