"If You Leave Me is graced with truly wonderful writing; great poise, lyricism, intelligence, and an utterly engrossing portrayal of life."—Richard Ford
"An unforgettable story of family, love, and war set against the violent emergence of modern Korea."—Gary Shteyngart
"A gripping, heartrending tale of the birth of modern Korea filtered through the prism of an intimate love story. In fresh, often astonishing prose, Kim brings her characters to life: complicated, flawed, and hard not to fall in love with. A strikingly original work."—Jessica Shattuck
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.
“Crystal Hana Kim has written a remarkably absorbing novel of people enduring the unendurables of war with grace, toughness, and undying love. If You Leave Me marks the debut of a born storyteller.”
“If You Leave Me marks the debut of a striking new voice. An unforgettable story of family, love, and war set against the violent emergence of modern Korea, Crystal Hana Kim has a gift for the lasting image. Moment by moment, her characters come alive.”
“If You Leave Me isgraced with truly wonderful writing; great poise, lyricism, intelligence, and an utterly engrossing portrayal of life.”
“A gripping, heartrending tale of the birth of modern Korea filtered through the prism of an intimate love story. In fresh, often astonishing prose, Kim brings her characters to life: complicated, flawed, and hard not to fall in love with. A strikingly original work.”
“An engrossing story of love, family, and war on the Korean peninsula. Timely and timeless—a beautiful debut.”
“If You Leave Me is a thrilling debut, a lyrical and lovely novel that beautifully showcases Crystal Hana Kim’s emotional intelligence and empathy for her characters.”
“War, family and doomed love are all center stage in this debut novel about the Korean civil war, the years that follow and the choices people are forced to make. Haunting.”
“If You Leave Me is exhilarating... Crystal Hana Kim has written a novel that teaches us and guides us, one that captures majestically, perfectly, not only our histories but our present and our future.”
“A love story and family saga melded into one, If You Leave Me is an unforgettable summer release about two young adults finding their way in the world.”
“If You Leave Me is a historical novel that manages to feel current and captivating, a family saga, and a portrait of a woman—a mother—who will mesmerize, shock, and surprise. Lovingly told, lyrical, and smart.”
“A family struggles to balance tradition and change in Kim’s marvelous debut. . . . [this] lyrical intergenerational saga resonates deeply and will appeal to readers who enjoyed The Orphan Master’s Son.”
“A gracefully crafted tale of war, family, refugee life, and two ill-fated lovers during the birth of modern Korea.”
This compelling, gorgeous debut novel takes place in wartime Korea… One of the most beautiful and moving love stories you’ll read this year, set as it is against the backdrop of finding a way through a callous world, of finding a way to preserve love in a time of war.
“A beautiful love story revolving around families forced to flee their homes during the Korean War.”
“Crystal Hana Kim’s debut novel, If You Leave Me, is the saga of Haemi and Kyunghwan, childhood friends turned forbidden lovers, who are separated by civil war in Korea and brought together years later, when Haemi must choose between love and loyalty.”
“Kim renders her multivoiced, multilayered ancestral and cultural history into stupendous testimony and indelible storytelling.”
“If you love lush, historical love triangles where history plays a shadowy, villainous role, read If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim.”