I received an Advance Uncorrected Proof of this book. All opinions are my own. It is available in bookstores now.
Lemon is a short book, just under 150 pages, divided into eight brief sections, moving forward through time from 2002 to 2019. These sections have different narrators though the most frequent is a young woman named Da-on. The central conflict of each section and the book as a whole is the murder of a teenage girl in the summer of 2002. Kim Hae-on was known for her incredible beauty and there were two immediate suspects following her death. But the murder remains unsolved and it haunts the lives of those involved. Da-on is Hae-on’s younger sister and we see how the violent loss of her sibling shapes her adult years and decisions. We also learn of Han Manu, a less wealthy boy who is initially accused of the murder and we see the way that Da-on’s and Han Manu’s lives entwine in the years to come.
If you’re looking for a murder mystery, this is not really it. The book is largely uninterested in solving Hae-on’s murder though we do gain a pretty good idea of what happened before the end of the book. Instead, this is a story that touches on what it means to be young and female, the ways our social class can decide our very lifespan, plus ideas of beauty and the power that it can wield.
This book was translated from the Korean by Janet Hong.