Wednesday 20 October 2021

Lemon by Kwon Yeo-sun Blog Tour

 Books that have been translated. Have you read any? Did you enjoy them.

I certainly have. One of my favourites recently was My Brother by Karin Smirnoff. However, I now have a new novel to add to that list of books I'd recommend ...

Lemon by Kwon Yeo-sun.

Translated by Janet Hong, this is not your typical crime novel. 


In the summer of 2002, when Korea is abuzz over hosting the FIFA World Cup, nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on is killed in what becomes known as the High School Beauty Murder. Two suspects quickly emerge: rich kid Shin Jeongjun, whose car Hae-on was last seen in, and delivery boy Han Manu, who witnesses Hae-on in the passenger seat of Jeongjun's car just a few hours before her death. But when Jeongjun's alibi turns out to be solid, and no evidence can be pinned on Manu, the case goes cold.

Seventeen years pass without any resolution for those who knew and loved Hae-on, and the grief and uncertainty take a cruel toll on her younger sister, Da-on, in particular. Unable to move on with her life, Da-on tries in her own twisted way to recover some of what she's lost, ultimately setting out to find the truth of what happened.

Told at different points in time from the perspectives of Da-on and two of Hae-on's classmates, Lemon loosely follows the structure of a detective novel. But finding the perpetrator is not the main objective here. Instead, the work explores grief and trauma, raising important questions about guilt, retribution, and the meaning of death and life.

What immediately drew me to this story was the front cover. 

That yellow dress. Eye catching. Breath-taking even.

There was something quietly foreboding about it but I felt an instant need to begin turning the pages to discover what was hidden within.

The initial focus of the novel is the murder in 2002 of Kim Hae-on which is known as the High School Beauty Murder. Hae-on wears a lemon coloured dress on the last day that she is last seen alive, hence the book title and imagery, all very effective.

What stood out for me was that there really wasn't any one particular protagonist, rather there were three narrators. Although Hae-on's sister Da-on appeared to be central to it all.

Each chapter is fairly short. Written in chronological order, every one packs a punch. 

Spanning over 17 years, the author builds a picture of not only the murder itself but the circumstances that led up to it as well as the aftermath and the impact it has on various people.

Every voice spoken is distinct and quite haunting. Even if they themselves may be confused by their own emotions.

As we delve deeper into the crime and the suspects, I began to feel like it was a puzzle that was possibly never meant to be fully solved. One open to interpretation to whoever is reading the story at the time. 

When I was asked if I'd like to review this story, I was told that although described as a crime novel, it was so much more than that, a description that I one hundred percent agree with.

I don't think this is a tale that can be pigeon-holed.

The depth and detail that is contained within the pages make it impossible to categorise. There is a real and raw exploration of many topics including social class, gender, death, and grief. I don't feel like Lemon is about who done it, rather looking for the meaning of life beyond such a tragedy.

I'm in no doubt that if I were to read Lemon again I would discover more hidden clues and come away with a different conclusion to the one I've just come to.

For such a brief story, Lemon is intricate and at times complex. 


Join the rest of the blog tour for more reviews and insights into this unique story.


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