If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim

If You Leave Me

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 continues to haunt us todayWhen 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 coas...

Details If You Leave Me

TitleIf You Leave Me
Release DateAug 7th, 2018
PublisherWilliam Morrow
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, Literary Fiction

Reviews If You Leave Me

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    5 bold stars to If You Leave Me! ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ If You Leave Me takes place in the 1950s during the Korean War. As children, Haemi and Kyunghwan were friends, but when the pair find themselves teens in a refugee camp along with their families and living under dire circumstances, a small spark is ignited as they spend a couple hours each night on the fringes of danger. Kyungwhan is entrenched in his schooling and has no idea his wealthy cousi...
  • Elyse
    “If You Leave Me”, by debut author, Crystal Hana Kim, takes place during the 1950’s and 1960’s in Korea. This is a wonderful, tragic tale.....the language, culture, and descriptions are lyrical and emotionally engrossing. We are taken on a journey —feeling the aches and pains. Haemi and Kyunghwan were childhood friends. Kyunghwan introduced his cousin, Jisoo, to Haemi, when the war made them go south. We know early on the reasons why Ha...
  • Jessica Woodbury
    My early years of motherhood were very difficult. They made me wonder whether I was fit to have kids at all. And sometimes I would start to think about what my life would look like if I lived 50, 100, 200 years ago in a world where women had no choices about their families and childbearing. I could never think about it too much because the thought of what it would be like would overwhelm me. Even now it's a hard thought experiment because those y...
  • Lillian Li
    I’m always so fascinated by books where every bad choice also feels like a necessary one. Crystal Hana Kim’s If You Leave Me is such a novel. There are no villains (except, perhaps, history itself; the rigid conventions of the time), only victims, who are strong, but not unbreakable; loving, but not saints, or martyrs. Haemi is the kind of headstrong, whip smart woman you ache to see born in the wrong era. Her decision (if it can even be call...
  • Jessica Bates
    I was totally engrossed in the story of Haemi, Kyunghwan, and their families in war torn Korea. I cried so many times with Haemi. This is one of the first (if not THE first) novel I’ve read that touches on postpartum depression, though it doesn’t call it by that name. Haemi talks about being in a haze a year after each child was born. About how she longed for more, how she felt misery creep in and poison her thoughts. It was such a full, achi...
  • Lucy Tan
    I was completely absorbed by the forbidden love story of Haemi and Kyunghwan, their complicated ties to Kyunghwan’s cousin, Jisoo, and this rich portrait of war-torn Korea. IF YOU LEAVE ME is a novel of epic proportions whose tone shifts agilely over time, following the lives of its characters and the devastating consequences of war. It’s full of longing and hard truths, and now that I've finished it I'm in solid agreement with the buzz surro...
  • Nobonita - The Bengali Nomad
    My blog: The Bengali Nomad I received an advanced copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This book is BEAUTIFUL. It is the EMOTIONAL-roller-coaster-ride & relatable tearjerker kind of beautiful. But my lips are sealed. Full review to come closer to its publication date.
  • J
    Literary novels normally turn me off, if I’m being honest. But this one shies from the romantic flowery language and gets to the heart of the characters, and let me tell you, it is HEARTBREAKING. But so so so sooooo goooood. I couldn’t recommend it higher, it is breathtaking.
  • Kelsea
  • Barbara White
    If You Leave Me is an interesting story seen through the eyes of each main character. I really learning about each character through the others. I was a little confused at the beginning, but once I realized how the book was written, it all fell into place. I felt I knew the characters, their pain and their joys. I could picture the surroundings as refugees in war torn Korea, and the same for others more successful. I highly recommend reading If Y...
  • Amanda Hagerty
    I won arc copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway. In return for honest review. I loved this book so much. This book is set between 1951 and 1967. This book is in five parts. Which made reading easy to read. In the first part we meet three young kids named Haemi and Jisoo and Kyunghwan trapped in the middle of Korea war. Haemi lives with her mother and her little brother. Haemi and Kyunghwan are childhood friends who run off and meet up with ea...
  • Audrey
    Overall, this was a disappointment. It's going to get a lot of comparisons to Pachinko but I think it's unfair to both books. While both books are set in Korea, Pachinko is a broader family epic that encompasses more events and time. One got a greater sense of the hardships and joys of the time period and of the family itself. This book, doesn't get there. And, part of it is my tastes: I'm not into the love triangle trope and this book revolves a...
  • Ming
    This is a technically well-written book. And the story is innovative given the time period it covers.However, I could not shake the impression that it's about three people who continually behave badly. The triangle persists despite the initial set of poor judgment and awful decisions. (Really? It went that well the first time that you'd repeat it?)My take on these characters, moreso, reflects a certain distance as well as pronounced disdain. I di...
  • Abby Johnson
    SO GOOD. Coming in August. In this sweeping novel set in Korea in the 1950s and 60s, war refugee Lee Haemi must choose between the boy she loves and the boy who can provide for her family. Just as the country's being torn apart, Haemi is torn. She yearns to follow her heart with the boy she loves, but her heart cares just as much about her ailing little brother who desperately needs food and medicine. Haemi's decision will impact the future of he...
  • Afoma Umesi
    Thanks to William Morrow Books for an ARC of this book.The debut novel is a harrowing account of the ravages of the Korean Civil War. Also in focus is the star-crossed love of Haemi Lee and her childhood friend, Kyunghwan. When the Korean civil war forces Haemi, her widowed mother and sickly brother to flee to a refugee camp, she finds solace in her nightly outings with Kyunghwan.There’s not too much to be said without giving the entire st...
  • Angie
    I am so happy to have won an ARC of If You Leave Me via Goodreads! This is one of my most anticipated books of 2018, and I am happy to say that I wholeheartedly recommend it.If You Leave Me is a beautifully-written, emotional story about the choices we make, and how we carry them with us for the rest of our lives. Set in Korea during the Korean War and its aftermath, If You Leave Me conveys the feelings and realities of refugee life. It also most...
  • Andrew
    I don't often engage in historical fiction, but If You Leave Me swept me away in its pages. My heart ached for Haemi, held captive by forbidden love, expectations as a wife and mother, and a life she never asked for with a man she never wanted. The multiple points of view gives a complete look into the wide range of tension and emotion surrounding the characters' histories with each other. This is a stunning, bittersweet, raw novel that will stay...
  • Carol
    Why is it that we are our own worst enemies sometimes? When love is found why is it that we can't dive into it and thrive without thinking of what other people will think or whether it's the "best choice" for the future? This is an absorbing book with wonderful character portrayals and life amidst war. Ultimately it's also an intriguing book of serious dysfunctionality in a family. Enjoyable but depressing.
  • Nancy
    It took me a while to get into If You Leave Me, and for the first third or so, I was confused about what exactly Crystal Hana Kim was trying to do: was this supposed to be a love story? A war story? It didn't feel like either, and it wasn't until about halfway through that I realized this book for what it was: a story about people hardened by war and poverty, and specifically, a story about women in a world that doesn't want to value their existe...
  • Christina
    I could tell from the first page that I was going to absolutely love this book. The author's writing style is superb. Each time I had to put this book down, I couldn't wait to pick it back up. I will definitely be reading her next novel!
  • Creager
    Haemi is a displaced teenager of the Korean War and has endured more than her Western counterparts; Japanese occupation, World War II and now this war against the Communist North. She finds freedom dressed in her father’s pants and with her childhood friend, Kyungham, there begins an awareness, a risk of more between them in this new world where the old customs don’t apply. But culture has the upper hand when Jisoo, Kyungham’s elder, sees i...
  • Sarah
    This is a stunning debut. Reminiscent of God of Small Things, this poetic story of war, longing, and motherhood captivated from the first page and left me haunted. I can't wait to read more from Crystal Hana Kim!
  • Blue Cypress Books
    Took a minute to get off the ground but once going, such a powerful and sad story of missed opportunities and dreams deferred by custom, country and war.
  • Marzie
    Crystal Hana Kim's If You Leave Me is an elegiac novel of historical fiction centering on the period of the Korean Civil War and its aftermath. Told from the perspective of multiple characters, we see life in Korea during this challenging period of time. Haemi is a sixteen-year-old young woman struggling to care for her sickly younger brother Hyunki while living in a refugee camp. She and her longtime best friend Kyunghwan steal time together. Ky...
  • Terry
    What I don’t know about the Korean War era — though I lived through it and was affected by it — would, and does, fill volumes. This novel, set in five distinct years, 1951, 1952, 1963, 1964, and 1967, opened up whole new vistas. Hyunki — one of the several characters telling their stories — and I would be about the same age. What a difference geography, and politics, makes. 5,229 miles. Roughly speaking. Fort Lewis, WA, to Busan (Pusan)...
  • Erin
    There was a lot to like about this novel - Kim does a great job creating well-rounded characters with emotional depth and the span of time she covers allows her to fully explore life's twists and turns with her characters. However, I felt like some of the most dramatic action happened off the page with minor characters reporting on it. This element made me feel disconnected from the plot and left me not caring too much about what happened to anyo...
  • Paris Harper-Hardy
    I really enjoyed this book about a woman who has conflicting relationships with two men in the wake of the Korean War. Haemi was relatable to me in that I feel like I've met people who approach life with her attitude. Instead of being a classic romance or love triangle, it's more like a story of three people who aren't really sure what they want and are afraid to say what they really mean.I think this book might be frustrating for some because it...
  • Rebeccah Adkisson
    A week ago I received my first Advance Reader's Edition novel. For me this was very exciting and extremely unexpected. I of course decided I would have to read this before anything else!Crystal Hana Kim, a new up and coming author, delivers a novel that is a combination of intriguing, exciting, disturbing, and extraordinarily emotional.When I first began, I couldn't put it down. I was instantly drawn to the characters, their past and current stat...
  • Mainlinebooker
    My head is reeling from this emotionally devastating novel set in 1950-60's Korea. It begins with the childhood friendships of 16 yr old Haemi Lee and Kyunghwan. Late at night they escape the effects of war on his bicycle chugging liquor and smoking cigarettes feeling free as birds for a small portion of their lives. Enter Kyunghwan's older cousin Jisoo, who wants to make her his bride so that he has someone to come home to after he enlists in th...
  • Shannon Dyer
    A sad and intense read. Review to come at AAR.