If You Leave Me

If You Leave Me

by Crystal Hana Kim

Narrated by Greta Jung, Keong Sim

Unabridged — 12 hours, 3 minutes

Crystal Hana Kim
If You Leave Me

If You Leave Me

by Crystal Hana Kim

Narrated by Greta Jung, Keong Sim

Unabridged — 12 hours, 3 minutes

Crystal Hana Kim

Audiobook (Digital)

$27.99
FREE With a B&N Audiobooks Subscription| Cancel Anytime
$0.00

Free with a B&N Audiobooks Subscription | Cancel Anytime

START FREE TRIAL

Already Subscribed? 

Sign in to Your BN.com Account


Listen on the free Barnes & Noble NOOK app

FREE

with a B&N Audiobooks Subscription

Or Pay $27.99

Overview

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.



Related collections and offers

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

★ 05/21/2018
A family struggles to balance tradition and change in Kim’s marvelous debut. Sixteen years old and living in a refugee camp in 1951 Busan, South Korea, Lee Haemi is not interested in marrying but knows the plight of her situation might necessitate it. War has put everything on hold except starving, dying, and desperation. Her decision to find a husband—borne partially out of hope for finding help for her ailing little brother, Hyunki—ripples through the lives of those around her, especially the cousins who compete for her affections: quiet, studious Yun Kyunghwan and loyal, clever Yun Jisoo. Kyunghwan and Jisoo are both conscripted and go off to war, where the former is injured and the latter becomes inured to the staggering violence and cruelty he witnesses. After the fighting, Jisoo asks Haemi to marry him, and she agrees, feeling he is the best option to guarantee the safety of her family. After they move to a small town and start a family of their own, Kyunghwan tries to get into college and fails; instead, he lands several demeaning jobs before eventually working his way up the ladder through a series of factory jobs. In a crucible of political upheaval, modernization, and tumultuous love, Haemi is faced with choosing between safety and her own passions when Kyunghwan reenters her life. Kim’s lyrical intergenerational saga resonates deeply and will appeal to readers who enjoyed The Orphan Master’s Son. (Aug.)

From the Publisher

Stunning … The novel is interested in something most others aren’t: the aftermath. It focuses both on what comes after war—as a new country struggles to develop its identity—and what follows Haemi’s fateful decision, as the ramifications of her choice ripple out to affect everyone around her.” — Washington Post

“Attention Hollywood: Adapt Crystal Hana Kim’s cinematic, decades-spanning romance If You Leave Me ASAP, please and thank you.” — Cosmopolitan

“Heartrending . . . details the anguish of star-crossed love and familial duty . . . a stunning feat of lyricism, an enthralling, tragic novel brimming with angst and remorse.”

USA Today (four stars)

“Both a forbidden love story and a portrait of war and refugee life, If You Leave Me will tear at your heartstrings. A breathtaking can’t-put-down read.” — MarieClaire.com

“A grand, sweeping story that proves that an epic can yield strong, individualized characters while still developing a nuanced perspective that refuses to essentialize war, women, or national identity.” — The Millions

“As beautifully layered as it is devastating . . . the riches of If You Leave Me will leave you contemplating the passage of time and its impact on the ties that we keep.” — Elle.com

“Mark our words: If You Leave Me is the book everyone (and their mothers in book club) will be talking about this summer . . . devastating and beautiful. With arresting prose, Kim writes of a woman caught in time and in history.” — Refinery29.com

“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.” — Chang-rae Lee, author of Native Speaker

“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, New York Times bestselling author of The Women in the Castle

“Combines vivid depictions of traditional Korean culture with an immersive, heartbreaking story about war, passion, and the road not taken.” — People

“Kim’s heartrending saga—told from the perspectives of five characters—examines how difficult choices can test even our closest relationships.” — Real Simple

“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.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“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.” — Popsugar, 30 of the Newest, Hottest Books to Pick Up This Summer

“Kim renders her multivoiced, multilayered ancestral and cultural history into stupendous testimony and indelible storytelling.” — Booklist (starred review)

“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.” — Parade, The Top 26 Hottest Books of Summer 2018

“Crystal Hana Kim possesses a pleasingly clear and fluid style of writing . . . deftly intertwining personal and political conflicts.” — Wall Street Journal

Jessica Shattuck

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.

Elle.com

As beautifully layered as it is devastating . . . the riches of If You Leave Me will leave you contemplating the passage of time and its impact on the ties that we keep.

People

Combines vivid depictions of traditional Korean culture with an immersive, heartbreaking story about war, passion, and the road not taken.

Chang-rae Lee

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.

The Millions

A grand, sweeping story that proves that an epic can yield strong, individualized characters while still developing a nuanced perspective that refuses to essentialize war, women, or national identity.

Refinery29.com

Mark our words: If You Leave Me is the book everyone (and their mothers in book club) will be talking about this summer . . . devastating and beautiful. With arresting prose, Kim writes of a woman caught in time and in history.

MarieClaire.com

Both a forbidden love story and a portrait of war and refugee life, If You Leave Me will tear at your heartstrings. A breathtaking can’t-put-down read.

Washington Post

Stunning … The novel is interested in something most others aren’t: the aftermath. It focuses both on what comes after war—as a new country struggles to develop its identity—and what follows Haemi’s fateful decision, as the ramifications of her choice ripple out to affect everyone around her.

Cosmopolitan

Attention Hollywood: Adapt Crystal Hana Kim’s cinematic, decades-spanning romance If You Leave Me ASAP, please and thank you.

USA Today (four stars)

Heartrending . . . details the anguish of star-crossed love and familial duty . . . a stunning feat of lyricism, an enthralling, tragic novel brimming with angst and remorse.”

Wall Street Journal

Crystal Hana Kim possesses a pleasingly clear and fluid style of writing . . . deftly intertwining personal and political conflicts.

Booklist (starred review)

Kim renders her multivoiced, multilayered ancestral and cultural history into stupendous testimony and indelible storytelling.

The Top 26 Hottest Books of Summer 2018 Parade

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.

Real Simple

Kim’s heartrending saga—told from the perspectives of five characters—examines how difficult choices can test even our closest relationships.

30 of the Newest Popsugar

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.

Washington Post

Stunning … The novel is interested in something most others aren’t: the aftermath. It focuses both on what comes after war—as a new country struggles to develop its identity—and what follows Haemi’s fateful decision, as the ramifications of her choice ripple out to affect everyone around her.

Wall Street Journal

Crystal Hana Kim possesses a pleasingly clear and fluid style of writing . . . deftly intertwining personal and political conflicts.

Cosmopolitan

Attention Hollywood: Adapt Crystal Hana Kim’s cinematic, decades-spanning romance If You Leave Me ASAP, please and thank you.

Writer's Bone

A truly beautiful, thoughtful book that will sit with me for some time.

Marie Claire

Both a forbidden love story and a portrait of war and refugee life, If You Leave Me will tear at your heartstrings. A breathtaking can’t-put-down read.

New City

Kim writes so tenderly you can’t help but feel compassion for her three main characters. These complicated, muddy creatures lurch into adulthood clinging to flimsy expectations of duty and family.

Minneapolis Star Tribune

Kim’s prose is most potent and visceral in its depictions of literal hunger. She allows hunger to seep into conversations about other subjects, giving it its rightful omnipresent quality.

The Millions interview with Lillian Li

If you love lush, historical love triangles where history plays a shadowy, villainous role, read If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim.

Chicago Magazine

A beautiful love story revolving around families forced to flee their homes during the Korean War.

Nylon Magazine

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.

Chicago Tribune

A gracefully crafted tale of war, family, refugee life, and two ill-fated lovers during the birth of modern Korea.

Victor LaValle

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.

Top 25 Hottest Books of Summer Parade

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.

Paul Yoon

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.

Emma Cline

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.

David Ebershoff

An engrossing story of love, family, and war on the Korean peninsula. Timely and timeless—a beautiful debut.

Richard Ford

“If You Leave Me is graced with truly wonderful writing; great poise, lyricism, intelligence, and an utterly engrossing portrayal of life.

Gary Shteyngart

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.

New York Post

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.

The 20 Best Reads for Your Summer Break NYPost.com

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.

TheMillions.com

If you love lush, historical love triangles where history plays a shadowy, villainous role, read If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim.

Library Journal

07/01/2018
This first novel opens in 1951 Korea, where readers first encounter 16-year-old Haemi in a refugee camp with her widowed mother and brother after Communist-backed troops from the north invade her hometown. Initially depicted as a strong-willed young woman, Haemi dresses as a boy to traipse off during late-night hours with childhood friend Kyunghwan, with whom she's in a budding romance. When Haemi consents to helping her family by marrying Kyunghwan's wealthier cousin Jisoo, Kyunghwan learns to suppress his feelings and come to terms with the loss of his first love. Up to the year 1967, the narrative follows these three in alternating chapters as they deal with the trauma of war and mature through life. Things take a turn halfway through when Haemi and Kyunghwan reunite in Jisoo's home, with Haemi now the mother of three daughters and the wife of an unfaithful husband. VERDICT Readers who enjoy novels by Jamie Ford and Lisa See will surely appreciate Kim's first work. Filled with brave personalities of all ages and character-driven story lines that are emotionally gripping, this sensitive and hauntingly written novel will easily leave readers wanting more. [See Prepub Alert, 2/11/18.]—Shirley Quan, Orange Cty. P.L., Santa Ana, CA

Kirkus Reviews

2018-05-15
In this debut novel, a love triangle is complicated by temperament, circumstance, and history: Korea, 1951-1967. We meet Haemi Lee at 16, in a refugee camp. The war between North and South has forced what is left of her family—her mother and her invalid younger brother—from their village. In her boredom, she's begun going out at night with a boy named Kyunghwan—they ride a bicycle into town and find ways to drink makgeolli and have some fun. The problem is that by day, she's being courted by this boy's wealthier, orphaned cousin, Jisoo. Jisoo wants to marry Haemi before he enlists, mainly so that he can have the sense that there's a family waiting for him at home when he returns. Haemi's decision plays out over the next 16 years, a time of great upheaval in the lives of all Koreans. The perspective on the action is split among five first-person narrators—the three already mentioned, Haemi's younger brother, and one of her daughters—and leaps over years at a time. This both expands the scope of the story and muffles its emotional power. Most interesting is the character of Haemi, who knows something is wrong with her, something that manifests as irritability, dissatisfaction, impulsivity, and an inability to connect deeply with those closest to her. In a world without diagnoses, therapists, or antidepressants, she will face a challenge even greater than the romantic one—becoming a mother. The character of Haemi is fascinating, her predicament a kind of Korean Virginia Woolf situation. Though this bulky saga is not as compelling as it could be, Kim's portrayal of the effects of mental illness on a family at a psychologically naïve time is perceptive and moving.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940170269860
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 08/07/2018
Edition description: Unabridged

Customer Reviews