First of all, I want to say thank you to the team at Head of Zeus for sending me a copy of Lemon by Kwon Yeo-sun for me to read and review. This book was truly a unique reading experience.
About The Book:
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Format I read it in: Hardcover
There were a few reasons why I was interested in this book. The vivid colours on the cover shouted radiance and mystery. The title is intriguing and I was wondering how it connected to the story. The synopsis starts off as a thriller, but dives into the unknown. And finally, I love exploring translated works because I always learn something new.
Lemon is a story that features the murder of a 19-year-old Kim Hae-on. Known as the High School Beauty Murder, there are instantly two suspects: Shin Jeongjun, a rich kid in whose car Hae-on was last seen, and Han Manu, a delivery boy who witnessed Hae-on in Shin Jeongjun’s passenger seat. When no evidence can be pinned on both boys, the case goes cold.
If you are looking for a mystery thriller, I’m afraid this book is not it. We may or may not find out the truth behind the murder. It doesn’t even matter. What we will definitely see though, is the aftermath. The lives this murder impacted and how they are getting on seventeen years after the murder.
Although this murder is the big event that drives everything, Lemon actually focuses on the people that survived. 17 years after the murder, the grief takes a big toll on Hae-on’s little sister, Da-on. Da-on is struggling to move on with her life. She lives more in the past than she does in the present. She even does some very dramatic things, all in the hope to be able to find out what happened to her older sister and move on.
“Death carves a clear line between the dead and the living,’ she said in a solemn tone. ‘The dead are over there and the rest of us are over here. When someone dies, no matter how great they were, it’s like drawing a permanent line between that person and the rest of humanity. If birth means begging to join the side of the living, then death has the power to kick everyone out. That’s why I think death, with its power to sever things forever, is far more objective, more dignified, than birth, which is the starting point of everything.”
I felt for Da-on. She felt she had a responsibility all her life. And she feels like she failed to protect her sister. I also felt for their mum. It was interesting to find out about her believing in bad omens. When Hae-on was a baby, she was supposed to be called Hye-eun. But the dad called her Hae-on due to his accent and this name stayed. Because of this, the mother thinks her daughter’s destiny has also changed. After Hae-on dies, the mum tries to change her name, but they won’t allow it. That scene was very heartbreaking. But it also made me wonder. I’ve never thought to ask that question before. Can you actually change a deceased person’s name? I tried to find information on this (specifically for the UK), but I wasn’t able to find anything, so I am assuming it’s not possible.
Aside from Hae-on’s family, we get to know more about the lives of the two suspects at that time. And also some of Hae-on’s classmates. It is very notable that this murder has a huge impact on a lot of people, and they all deal with it very differently. In some of the scenes where Da-on meets with these people, you can notice the awkwardness and rawness is still present, even after years have passed.
Even though it’s not the most suspenseful fiction novel, I still recommend it. I read it in a day and it did keep me intrigued. It was a different take on an aftermath of a murder, and I enjoyed it. I also learned a few new things, which I always cherish in my reading adventures!
About The Author:
Kwon Yeo-sun was born in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province of South Korea in 1965. Kwon enjoyed a brilliant literary debut in 1996 when her novel Niche of Green was awarded the Sangsang Literary Award. At the time, novels that reflected on the period of the democratization movement in South Korea, were prevalent.