If You Leave Me

If You Leave Me

A Novel

Book - 2018 | First edition.
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"An immersive, heartbreaking story about war, passion, and the road not taken." -- People

"One of the most beautiful and moving love stories you'll read this year." -- Nylon Magazine

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2018 BY The Washington Post * The New York Post * Vulture * Real Simple * Bustle * Nylon * Thrillist * Mental Floss * Self magazine * Booklist * Refinery 29

An emotionally riveting debut novel about war, family, and forbidden love--the unforgettable saga of two ill-fated lovers in Korea and the heartbreaking choices they're forced to make in the years surrounding the civil war that still haunts us today.

When the communist-backed army from the north invades her home, sixteen-year-old Haemi Lee, along with her widowed mother and ailing brother, is forced to flee to a refugee camp along the coast. For a few hours each night, she escapes her family's makeshift home and tragic circumstances with her childhood friend, Kyunghwan.

Focused on finishing school, Kyunghwan doesn't realize his older and wealthier cousin, Jisoo, has his sights set on the beautiful and spirited Haemi--and is determined to marry her before joining the fight. But as Haemi becomes a wife, then a mother, her decision to forsake the boy she always loved for the security of her family sets off a dramatic saga that will have profound effects for generations to come.

Richly told and deeply moving, If You Leave Me is a stunning portrait of war and refugee life, a passionate and timeless romance, and a heartrending exploration of one woman's longing for autonomy in a rapidly changing world.

Publisher: New York, NY : William Morrow, [2018]
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780062645173
Branch Call Number: FIC Kim
Characteristics: 417 pages ; 22 cm


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Feb 10, 2019

While well written and with some beautiful imagery, I felt the book was totally unsatisfying from beginning to end. I kept waiting for an arc in the story, but it sort of just trailed on. I did find Haemi's struggle with depression/ her relationship with her children and husband to be complex, well written, and truthful, if not emotionally draining. I don't need my book to have a fairy tale ending, but it's tough to remain interested when there's no light at all to balance the dark.

Jan 19, 2019

Set in the end of Korean war through 1967. My affinities for the individual characters waxed and waned throughout. Told from several points of view at different periods of time. Would Haemi have had a different outcome if she'd married Kyungwhan instead of Jisoo? At times she seems clear eyed about their prospects. Relationships don't tie up neatly or happily. Yet, it was a great read, very emotionally satisfying and true.

Jan 02, 2019


cysmc Apr 27, 2018

Wow what a downer of a book. I gave it 1.5 stars for the beautiful and descriptive writing but that was not enough to save it in my opinion. I was unlucky enough to get a copy of this as an ARC and promptly tossed it into the trash at the airport when I was through. Depressing from start to finish.

However, if you love beautifully written books and don't mind the lack of happy ending after investing quite a bit of time in a bleak story, then give it a try!

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