Book Review | If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha

hi everyone so today i’m going to be
reviewing if i had your face by frances
cha
if you watched my mid freak out tag you
will have noticed how
much i raved on and on about this book
so in this book we follow
four young women as they navigate
contemporary life in south korea
we have Ara who is a hairstylist very
obsessed with this k-pop idol
we have Kyuri who is a room salon
girl who is very obsessed with beauty
and she’s had multiple surgeries
and we have Miho who’s just returned
from
from america and is an artist dealing
with
the death of her best friend and the
choices that she made following this
death
and finally we have Wonna who is a
married woman trying to get pregnant as well as
remain pregnant because she has
had quite a few miscarriages. what i
really really loved about this book is
how feminist it is
and i love women’s literature in general
and how funny and absurd it can get as
well as a cynical tone
that it tends to have at times but what
i also really enjoyed
is how despite the misogynistic society
that these women are navigating
um they managed to still go on despite
all of these hardships and i really
enjoy seeing that in literature as well.
misogyny in south korea is not that
exceptional it happens everywhere
obviously but just
reading about the forms that it takes
were very interesting for me what i also
just really really loved about this book
is the commentary on beauty
because i disagree with beauty in
general and i don’t think we should be
participating and
i just hate that whole system i know the
contradictions because i’m wearing
makeup today but yeah
um just reading the reviews about this
book
kind of sometimes left a bad taste
in my mouth because people were
exceptionalizing it and
showing it as something so unique to
south korea but
all societies function according to
beauty
and it rewards beautiful people and i
see i understand why people would strive
for it and seek it because you see
um all of these gifts and capital people
gain from it
and one of my favorite characters in
this book, Kyuri as i mentioned has had
multiple surgeries she’s in debt uh
that’s another thing about beauty it
gets you into debt
like participating in that system can
get you in a lot of debt
and what i really just loved about Kyuri
is how funny she was
and how she knew men because obviously
she works in a room salon
and it’s a very patriarchal corporate
culture system and just seeing how she
would just
have these mini monologues about these
men
um encouraging her to drink and why
wasn’t she fun today what was up with
her
and then swearing at her if she didn’t
give them the attention that they wanted
and so on you know the typical life
and what i also really enjoyed in the
second read was
how as cynical as she is she still cares
about people
she still cares about her future she
wants to live
and seeing that and seeing how hopeful
she was kind of broke my heart at times
but also just
made me hopeful for her that things
could be better
it was also my first time reading i
think uh
a book about someone who works in the
sex industry
and i really want to like read more
books about that
fiction books about that and it was just
very very interesting learning about how
it functions
in south korea. my second favorite
character in this book was
Ara who is disabled and i really want to
read
more books about disabled characters
physically disabled characters because
Ara lost her voice when she was a
teenager she had gotten into a fight
and she lost her voice
in no ways is this book perfect in terms
of uh disability representation
because a lot of the characters in the
book infantilize her which is obviously
commentary on
our society as well and i didn’t
understand some of the choices because
there’s a part in this book where
Ara wonders if she can text the police
because she obviously can’t call them
and i wondered if frances cha was making
a comment on how ableist societies are
or if she did not know if she could if
Ara could call i mean text the police
it was very confusing
because i understand the ableist part
and
i also wondered why ara
maybe didn’t think about learning korean
sign language i also don’t know how
accessible learning sign language is for
other people
and yeah it was just a bit
confusing for me to be honest and then
but what i also just loved about ara is
how
multifaceted she is and her capacity for
cruelty
was very fascinating as well as
surprising at times because
yeah i think it’s just like how
infantilizing
um the other characters were towards her
but Ara just
just ridiculing them all of the time
thinking oh my word why are they like
this
and so on and so forth i really love
these two characters
i did not enjoy miho until towards the
end when she became more engrossing
because
as i don’t generally reading about
artists and
them talking about the art processes
does not interest me that
much at all
rather like i don’t mind if the artists
are writers but if like you’re a painter and
stuff in a fiction book i’m not that
interested
but towards the end when she starts
revealing herself
or frances cha starts revealing who
*miho is and how judgmental she can get it
was
started getting more interesting and
yeah and then another character who was
very funny as well in
a very cutthroat manner was Wonna
but i don’t think that Wonna should have
been in this book
i think that sujin who is ara’s best
friend should have had the chapters that
wonna had
because as i mentioned before wonna is
married
trying to get pregnant and i thought
that her narrative differed majorly
compared to the other girls who were
who were single obviously and i mean
they were in relationships with other
people but
it was very distinct it was very i don’t
think that it fit i don’t think that wonna’s narrative fit into the book at
all and it would have rather been
interesting
reading about partnered women in another
book different from this one
and yeah speaking about a character that
i wish had had her own chapter
sujin who is ara’s best friend very
uh close and she had been there that
night that ara
lost her voice and really loved the
care they had with one another even
wonna comments how
much she craved that and how
appreciative she was just like looking
at ara and sujin kind of interact and
everything like
that sujin earlier on in the book has
surgery
and it’s the funniest thing when
i mean it’s not funny when you think
about it just like the lens she goes
through
to be beautiful and uh
she’s crying at the hospital like
wrapped around in bandages
and before then she’d left all of the
belongings to
uh ara saying that i leave everything of
mine to my roommate ara
and the way that frances cha writes
about it it was just so
funny i don’t like when i think about it
it is just like oh and it doesn’t
it’s not that funny to be honest yeah um
one book reviewer said that this book
kind of ran
out of steam and i agree because towards
the third act i
felt myself sighing about oh i’m gonna
read about wonna again
and i’m gonna read about how miserable
that
these girls can get and i was like i’m
kind of
over it but then the last chapter has
kyuri so i just got back into it
i highly recommend this book so funny
and so absurd at times but just you
learn a lot
and i appreciate learning and i really
love
distinct characters that i’ve never seen
before i’d never seen
like most of these characters that i was
reading about and yeah
highly recommend one of my favorite
books
ever yeah oh and the look that i had was
inspired by
mbali from flowahh
i’ll link all of the um the person’s uh
instagram they have a books as looks on
instagram so check that out and i will
see you
when i see you bye

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