Today is my stop on the Lemon blog tour. Thank you Jade Gwilliam, Head of Zeus,
for inviting me on this tour #Lemon #NotJustAnyBook #YouDecide
In the summer of 2002, nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on was murdered in what became known as the High School Beauty Murder. There were two suspects: Shin Jeongjun, who had a rock-solid alibi, and Han Manu, to whom no evidence could be pinned. The case went cold.
Seventeen years pass without justice, 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..
Lemon is a short book or novella. It opens with a flashback into the investigation of the death of Kim Hae-on also known as ‘The High School Beauty Murder’. Set from 2002 to present (2019) it is narrated by three characters, Da-on (Hae-on’s younger sister) and two of Hae-on’s classmates (Shanghai Eonni and Yun Taerim). Lemon refers to the colour of the dress worn by Kim Hae-on when she was murdered.
This is not your usual run of the mill crime story, so don’t expect a page-turning book full of action and suspense. It is more about the exploration of the thoughts, feelings and views of the main characters after the death of a loved one. In particular the impact this death had Da-on and her mother, driving them to act in an unusual and out of character manner. The trauma and grief they felt is depicted by the author in a very raw and emotional way and at other times it feels quite chilling. The writing is good, there is definitely a Korean feel about it and I loved the food and setting references and what the characters did in their every day life. I found myself looking for hidden meanings within the narrative, even though there is a prime murder suspect you will find yourself constantly questioning it.
Reading Lemon was an unusual but enjoyable experience. It is not your normal murder/mystery, but it’s a very moving and thought-provoking book, if a little unsettling at times. The ending was not quite the open and shut case I had anticipated and is left for the reader to piece it all together. This wonderful little novel is perfect for readers who would like to ‘dip their toe’ into Korean literature.
About the author:
Kwon Yeo-sun is an award-winning Korean writer. She has won the Sangsang Literary Award, Oh Yeongsu Literature Award, Yi Sang Literary Prize, Hankook Ilbo Literary Award, Tong-ni Literature Prize and Lee Hyo-seok Literary Award. Lemon is her first novel to be published in the English language.
About the Translator:
Janet Hong is a writer and translator based in Vancouver, Canada. She received the TA First Translation Prize and the LTI Korea Translation Award for her translation of Han Yujoo’s The Impossible Fairy Tale, which was also a finalist for both the 2018 PEN Translation Prize and the National Translation Award. Her recent translations include Ha Seong-nan’s Bluebeard’s First Wife, Ancco’s Nineteen, and Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s Grass.
Thank you to the publisher for the gifted advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
Please do not hesitate to comment below if you liked my review or have any comments about this book 😊