“I would live your life so much better than you If I Had Your Face.”
In a culture that only values females for their youth and beauty, is it any wonder that plastic surgery has become an almost-mandatory South Korean ritual for teen girls?
The story is told from the perspective of five young Korean women:
- the non-speaking hairstylist Ara, who “speaks” for her envious roommate Sujin,
- the pragmatic and surgically-enhanced room salon girl Kyuri,
- the discontented housewife Wonna, and
- the non-surgically-enhanced artist Miho.
All had abusive childhoods. All live in the same office-tel (apartment house) now. All have ambitions for their future.
In the book, the focus on the now, rather than the future, and the surface, rather than the inside, leads to tragedy. After all, “Korea has the highest suicide rate in the world.” [Note: South Korea is actually fourth behind Lithuania(?), Russia and Guyana in 2020. Still that’s a race you don’t want to win.] While some of the girls’ lives change, there isn’t much movement within the book. It is a case of telling rather than showing. Therefore, I give If I Had Your Face 3 stars.
Thanks to Ballantine Books, Random House and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.