A riveting debut novel set in contemporary Seoul, Korea, about four young women making their way in a world defined by impossibly high standards of beauty, secret room salons catering to wealthy men, strict social hierarchies and K-pop fan mania.
Even as a girl, I knew the only chance I had was to change my face...even before a fortune-teller told me so.
Kyuri is a heartbreakingly beautiful woman with a hard-won job at a room salon, an exclusive bar where she entertains businessmen while they drink. Though she prides herself on her cold, clear-eyed approach to life, an impulsive mistake with a client may come to threaten her livelihood.
Her roomate, Miho, is a talented artist who grew up in an orphanage but won a scholarship to study art in New York. Returning to Korea after college, she finds herself in a precarious relationship with the super-wealthy heir to one of Korea's biggest companies.
Down the hall in their apartment building lives Ara, a hair stylist for whom two preoccupations sustain her: obsession with a boy-band pop star, and a best friend who is saving up for the extreme plastic surgery that is commonplance.
And Wonna, one floor below, is a newlywed trying to get pregnant with a child that she and her husband have no idea how they can afford to raise and educate in the cutthroat economy.
Together, their stories tell a gripping tale that's seemingly unfamiliar, yet unmistakably universal in the way that their tentative friendships may have to be their saving grace.
Story Locale: Contemporary Seoul, South Korea Penguin: Viking Spring 2020
Format: Hardcover, 288 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books, April 2020
Product Dimensions: 9.5 L × 6.4 W × 1.1 H
* Subject to availability