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, Cultural, Asia

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 Walters
    “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...
  • Jennifer
    In Crystal Hana Kim's debut novel: If You Leave Me, multiple narrators allow us to bear witness to female lead character: Haemi Lee as a practical life choice at the young age of sixteen impacts her and those around her for years to come. It's not news that women fulfill a wide variety of roles in our one short lifetime. Some are by choice, some are not...and this is the main theme threaded throughout this novel: choice. Set in the 1950's and 196...
  • Monica Kim
    If you leave me, I’ll be alone. — Crystal Hana Kim, If You Leave Me..oh my god, my heart is aching so bad! Crystal Hana Kim’s “If You Leave Me” was one helluva emotionally heavy read. The ending totally shattered my heart, oh my! This is an impressive, epic, unforgettable debut novel about love, family, war, gender roles, and heartbreaking choices people make that haunts them for a lifetime set in Korea 1950’s and 1960’s during & af...
  • 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...
  • Janelle
    Thank you so much to William Morrow for providing my free copy of IF YOU LEAVE ME by Crystal Hana Kim - all opinions are my own.This is a poignant, insightful debut novel set during the time of the Korean War involving a complicated love triangle. We follow sixteen-year-old Haemi Lee who is staying at a refugee camp as she and her family have been forced out of their village due to the calamity of war. Haemi has been sneaking out to spend time wi...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Jerrie (redwritinghood)
    This wins for beautiful cover, but the story was disappointing. This is a pretty standard love story/love triangle. I was interested in the post-WWII Korean setting, but nothing much was made of that in the book. To me, that was a missed opportunity.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • Ingrid Contreras
    “Everyone in our village whispered what they wanted to believe: the war would end and we would return to our real homes soon.” This gorgeous novel opens in a refugee camp in Korea where sixteen-year old Haemí escapes the unfolding anguish of her family’s straw-roofed shelter, and sneaks to meet her childhood friend Kyunghwan. Late at night, they ride bicycles to nearby towns and scout out bars. They pretend to have different lives, to be o...
  • Nicole Swinson
    This is Crystal Hana Kim’s debut novel and she in no way disappointed me. This story is brilliantly written, each chapter guides you through the lives of the three main characters- Haemi, Kyunghwan and Jisoo. The story line is set in the time of the Korean War when they all had to flee to safety in a refugee camp. Haemi and Kyunghwan were childhood friends and their friendship continues to grow as they sneak out and spend time with each other p...
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • Kelsea
  • tz
    There are few likeable characters in this book. I think that’s why I liked it so much. We can only bend so much before we break.
  • Lexie
    4.2 stars a beautiful novel. Heartbreaking. Full review to come soon
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Jultri
    3.5/5. This book is not an easy one to rate. On the one hand, the Korean American author is a stellar writer capable of beautiful prose and who sleekly interwove the changing social and political landscape of South Korea into her central love story. It takes us through sixteen years, from the Korean War to 1967, as it follows the lives of the 3 main characters, Haemi, her childhood sweetheart(Kyunghwan) and his cousin (Jisoo), the man she married...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Traci at The Stacks
    A post war story. Super specific. The author clearly knew her characters. Not overworked or overwritten. Emotional. No one was completely right, everyone was complex. Good good book.
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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.