Reviews

Almond, by Won-Pyung Sohn

wo__122's review against another edition

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emotional informative inspiring reflective relaxing sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

cande_carrion22's review against another edition

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emotional inspiring sad fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.75

seldias's review against another edition

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dark emotional sad fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.0

sydrcd's review against another edition

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challenging informative fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.0

kokelo's review against another edition

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challenging emotional hopeful reflective fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

This book allowed me to understand myself better, I absolutely loved it.

tjaaayxox's review against another edition

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dark informative reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? N/A
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

jiyoon's review against another edition

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emotional reflective fast-paced

5.0

heykellyjensen's review against another edition

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This book is different, and it’s different in a way that’s purposeful as to leave readers wondering whether this was a love story or a complete tragedy. Maybe both?

Yunjae was born with Alexithymia, which means his brain is wired so that he doesn’t know how to feel or respond to emotions. His mother and his grandmother love him despite his challenges, though he’s never been able to make friends. He’s an outsider, as others cannot relate with him and he, with others. He lives with his mother above the bookstore she owns, and she works to help him navigate responding to emotions with helpful sticky notes around their apartment. Yunjae isn’t especially bothered with his lot, but everything changes in one instant on Christmas Eve, when his grandmother and mother are victims of a random act of violence. His grandmother passes and his mother is essentially a vegetable. Not knowing or understanding how to process emotions that are small, this big series of emotions lead Yungjae to withdraw.

That is, until he meets Gon. Gon isn’t nice to Yungjae, and in fact, he’s quite a bully. But Gon’s story is tragic as well, and it’s wrapped up in a favor that Yungjae agrees to with a man whose wife is on her deathbed. Yungjae may be a victim of bullying here, but he’s unable to stop wondering about -- and being desperate to know -- Gon and his story. He’s hot and angry, and by getting close to him, Yungjae hopes that he might be able to work through this emotions himself. Though we don’t get to know Gon through his own voice, we’re led to believe he’s bullying on Yungjae not because he’s nasty but instead because he’s impressed with how much he’s been through and never loses his cool. It becomes quite clear that Gon desires a friendship here, even if he doesn’t know how to approach making friends. Interestingly, the translator of the book put in the notes in the back of the book that she believes there might have been romantic feelings here, too, though in her translation she held back on pushing that narrative forward. It wasn’t until I read that where I could see it, but indeed, I could see it.

It’s through this friendship between two “monsters” that both Gon and Yungjae begin to really become themselves. Yungjae in particular begins to find he wants to spend time with a bookish girl named Dori who wanders into his life -- something he never dreamed possible. Of course, pursuing that means his friendship with Gon takes a backseat. But when Gon’s life is in danger, Yungjae really pushes through all of his fears, all of the things he’s believed about himself, to step in and potentially become a hero in Gon’s story . . . as well as his own.

Don’t go into this one for plot. Go into it for fascinating character studies. It’s a short book, with small chapters, but each word and description is exacting and offers so much depth to Yungjae and his experience living with a disorder that doesn’t allow him to fully feel or express empathy, even though consciously he understands what it is. I wanted to blow through this one quickly because it reads quickly, but I found myself pausing a lot and setting it down frequently so I could think about it and think specifically about what it must be like to live like Yungjae. He’s far more than his traumas and he’s also not here to be a feel-good story of a character overcoming a challenging brain condition. That’s where, I think, this book is really smart. It’s complex, and the metaphor of the almond -- referring to the shape of the amygdala -- is apt.

Almond is Sohn’s debut novel and an award-winner in Korea, and as the translator notes in the book (note: read the translator’s note!), this book being brought to the US market is a pretty incredible thing. It’s marketed as YA in Korea, and while it’s being marketed as adult in the US, it’s perfect for YA readers who want something literary and challenging. Readers who are familiar with the book Nothing by Janne Teller will for sure want to pick this up, but anyone who wants to read more broadly global literature, stories of adolescents that don’t often see the light, and stories of neuro atypical characters will find so much to enjoy here.

sadmermaid's review against another edition

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emotional hopeful informative reflective sad fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

this book was informative, heart warming and sad. i really loved everything about this book. 

maisontannies's review against another edition

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5.0

Absolutely loved it.