Wednesday 7 July 2021

Book Review: Lemon by Kwon Yeo-sun (Contemporary Fiction)

Title: Lemon
Author: Kwon Yeo-sun
Publisher: Apollo - Head of Zeus
Publication Date: 7 October 2021 (2019)
Format: eBook - EPUB
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: ARC via NetGalley 

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.


Lemon was a short yet captivating read that considered themes such as life and death, guilt, belonging and social hierarchy and its privileges. Rather than a linear narrative, we gradually piece together events from the recollections of several characters, allowing us to pass judgment on what actually happened to Kim Hae-on. This is not a story that ends neatly, with all questions answered, but it does offer a thought-provoking premise that lets the reader come up with their own conclusions. Lemon was a different kind of story from what you might expect from the blurb, but it is definitely one worth reading. It gets 4.5 stars from me.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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